Possibly. For example, restaurants may need to rearrange tables and department stores may need to adjust their layout of racks and shelves in order to permit access to wheelchair users.
Businesses are not required to retrofit their facilities to install elevators unless such installation is readily achievable, which is unlikely in most cases.
Employment discrimination is prohibited against individuals with disabilities. This includes applicants for employment and employees. An individual is considered to have a "disability" if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with an individual with a disability also are protected.
The first part of the definition makes clear that the ADA applies to persons who have impairments and that these must substantially limit major life activities. There are two non-exhaustive lists of examples of major life activities: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, interacting with others, and working.
Major life activities also include the operation of major bodily functions, including functions of the immune system, special sense organs and skin, normal cell growth, digestive, genitourinary, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, and reproductive functions.
Examples of specific impairments that should easily be concluded to be disabilities include: deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, partially or completely missing limbs, mobility impairments, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.
The second part of the definition protecting individuals with a record of a disability would cover, for example, a person who has recovered from cancer or mental illness.
Under the third part of the definition, a covered entity has regarded an individual as having a disability if it takes an action prohibited by the ADA (e.g., failure to hire, termination, or demotion) based on an individual’s impairment or on an impairment the covered entity believes the individual has, unless the impairment is transitory (lasting or expected to last for six months or less) and minor.
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A qualified individual is a person who meets legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that s/he holds or seeks, and who can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation. Requiring the ability to perform "essential" functions assures that an individual with a disability will not be considered unqualified simply because of inability to perform marginal or incidental job functions. If the individual is qualified to perform essential job functions except for limitations caused by a disability, the employer must consider whether the individual could perform these functions with a reasonable accommodation. If a written job description has been prepared in advance of advertising or interviewing applicants for a job, this will be considered as evidence, although not conclusive evidence, of the essential functions of the job.
The ADA places the legal obligation to remove barriers or provide auxiliary aids and services on both the landlord and the tenant. The landlord and the tenant may decide by lease who will actually make the changes and provide the aids and services, but both remain legally responsible.
The title I employment provisions apply to private employers with 15 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor unions, agents of the employer and joint management labor committees.
The Regional ADA Centers do not provide direct attorney referrals. The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP). There is a P&A/CAP agency in every state and U.S. territory as well as one serving the Native American population in the four corners region. Collectively, the P&A/CAP network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States. To find your local Protection and Advocacy agency and Client Assistance Program in each state, go to - http://www.ndrn.org/en/ndrn-member-agencies.html.
Your state or local bar association may also provide a good starting point in the search for legal advice or representation. To find your local bar association, go to http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/home.cfm, or call 1-800-285-2221
The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design can be found at: http://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm.
The Department of Justice’s ADA web site, www.ada.gov, contains a number of useful documents on accessibility for businesses and state and local governments. For example, for businesses see “ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business” and the section on “Making the Built Environment More Accessible” at: http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm.
The U.S. Access Board also produces a number of documents on a wide range of accessibility-related topics which can be found at: www.access-board.gov. For example, check “Guide to Updated ADA Standards” at: http://web.archive.org/web/20130721160340/http://access-board.gov//ada/guide.htm.
Structural changes needed for program accessibility must be made as expeditiously as possible, and should have been made by January 26, 1995. A public entity that employs 50 or more persons must have developed a transition plan by July 26, 1992, setting forth the steps necessary to complete such changes.
An employer is only required to accommodate a "known" disability of a qualified applicant or employee. The requirement generally will be triggered by a request from an individual with a disability, who frequently will be able to suggest an appropriate accommodation. Accommodations must be made on an individual basis, because the nature and extent of a disabling condition and the requirements of a job will vary in each case. If the individual does not request an accommodation, the employer is not obligated to provide one except where an individual's known disability impairs his/her ability to know of, or effectively communicate a need for, an accommodation that is obvious to the employer. If a person with a disability requests, but cannot suggest, an appropriate accommodation, the employer and the individual should work together to identify one. There are also many public and private resources that can provide assistance without cost.