Overview of The Americans With Disabilities Act

These rights are guaranteed at the national level under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities. When it comes to employment, disabled people have the right to receive reasonable accommodations so they have the opportunity to work and perform their job duties to the best of their abilities.

The Americans With Disabilities Act is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The agency makes it illegal for the following employers to engage in job discrimination:

  • State and local governments
  • Private employers
  • Employment agencies
  • Labor organizations and labor-management committees

Those with disabilities are often treated as second-class citizens, but they actually have civil rights that protect them in various aspects of life, including employment, schools, jobs, and transportation.

If you are disabled and working or looking for a job, read on to understand employers’ obligations to you. Seek legal help from the ADA lawyers in Schaumburg at North Suburban Legal Services.

What Is The Americans With Disabilities Act?

The Americans With Disabilities Act applies to employers with at least 15 employees and offers the following:

  • It defines disability, addresses medical examinations, and establishes guidelines and processes for reasonable accommodations.
  • It offers disabled people the same employment opportunities that people without disabilities receive.
  • It requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled job applicants and employees.

What Does The Americans With Disabilities Act Cover?

The ADA makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees and job applicants in all employment practices. This law covers the following:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Firing
  3. Hiring
  4. Training
  5. Pay
  6. Benefits
  7. Job assignments
  8. Promotions
  9. Layoffs and terminations
  10. Time off/leave

The ADA also makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against you for asserting your rights under whistleblower laws, such as reporting violations of workplace health and safety, finances, and taxes. The ADA also protects those who face discrimination because they are associated with someone who has a disability.

What Must Employers Do To Comply With The Americans With Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations for employees and applicants. A reasonable accommodation typically refers to a modification or adjustment to a job or work environment. It could also mean a change to the hiring processes in order to accommodate a job applicant so that they have an equal opportunity to get a job.

So when are reasonable accommodations required? The ADA requires them in three aspects of employment:

  1. Ensuring equal opportunity for all applicants, regardless of disability, during the application process
  2. Enabling a qualified disabled person to perform the essential functions of a job
  3. Allowing a disabled employee to enjoy equal employment benefits

Reasonable accommodations may be viewed as “special treatment” by employers or a disabled person’s co-workers. Instead, they should be treated as “productivity enhancers,” as they provide assistance to a disabled employee, which then benefits all employees. For example, enhancements such as wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms, and ergonomic workstations can benefit everyone.

Reasonable accommodations often cost very little and involve minor changes to a work environment. They may include a variety of improvements and modifications, such as:

  • Making existing facilities accessible
  • Modified work schedules
  • Job restructuring
  • Equipment modifications
  • Making changes to tests or policies
  • Providing qualified readers or interpreters

More specifically, they may include the following:

  • Installing a ramp
  • Modifying a restroom
  • Modifying a workspace
  • Modifying a policy to allow a service animal
  • Allowing for assistive technologies
  • Providing screen reader software
  • Using videophones to communicate with deaf workers
  • Providing sign language interpreters or closed captioning at meetings
  • Providing materials in Braille or large print
  • Adjusting work schedules to allow for employees with chronic medical conditions to attend medical appointments

What Employers Cannot Do

When applying for a job, an employer is allowed to ask if you can perform the job duties with or without reasonable accommodation. However, an employer is not legally allowed to ask you if you are disabled or how severely you are disabled.

An employer also cannot require that you take a medical examination before receiving a job offer. If you have a disability, the employer cannot refuse to hire you if you require a reasonable accommodation to perform the job’s essential functions. Once you have been hired, your employer cannot require a medical examination or ask questions about your disability unless they are specifically job-related.

What is an Undue Hardship?

An undue hardship refers to an accommodation that is not reasonable and would result in too much difficulty or expense. This varies based on the accommodation and the size of the business. A larger company would be in a better position to provide accommodations for disabled employees.

If it is determined that a particular accommodation would be an undue hardship, the employer must make other arrangements. They should try to find another accommodation that will not pose a hardship. Also, if an accommodation is considered to be an undue hardship, the disabled person should be informed so they can opt to pay for the cost of implementing the accommodation.

How To File a Discrimination Claim

If you have faced discrimination in the workplace due to a disability, you need to contact the EEOC to file a claim. In Illinois, you have up to 300 days to file a charge. Protect your rights by contacting the EEOC as soon as possible.

You can file a charge by contacting any EEOC field office, located in various cities throughout the United States. If it can be proven that you faced discrimination by your employer, you are entitled to remedies such as hiring, promotion, reinstatement, or reasonable accommodation. You may also be entitled to financial remedies such as back pay and attorney fees.

Contact ADA Lawyers in Schaumburg

Employers need to be aware of laws that affect how they hire and fire workers. Discriminating against someone with disabilities is not allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If you are dealing with disability discrimination in the workplace, North Suburban Legal Services can help. Our Chicago disability discrimination lawyers can help you with your employment law claim and help you seek justice. Schedule a free consultation today. Contact us by calling (312) 313-4038.




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