What is the American’s With Disabilities Act?
The American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990. It protects the disabled in a variety of settings, such as the workplace, buildings, and transportation services. Title I of the ADA requires that employers with 15 or more employees provide individuals with disabilities to enjoy an equal opportunity to enjoy all the employment-related opportunities afforded to others. Hiring, recruitment, salary, social activities and training must be applied without discriminating against disabled individuals. Employers are restricted from asking about an employee’s disability during the hiring process, and reasonable accommodations for disabled persons must be made in the workplace.
“Disability” is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities. Performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, standing, speaking, thinking and communicating are some examples of major life activities. Deafness, blindness, mobility impairments, autism, some diseases such as cancer and HIV, and depression are a few examples of what can be considered a disability.
Job applicants must still be qualified for the position they are applying for, and must still be able to perform job related tasks. Employers do not have to give preference to employees with disabilities; they are free to choose applicants based on reasons unrelated to disability.
If I’m a disabled worker, what are my rights?
It’s important to know your rights. Employers are prohibited from asking applicants from taking a medical exam before a job offer is made. They are also prohibited from asking any questions about the applicant’s disability before a job offer is made. After an offer is made, however, an employer may condition it on a successful medical exam or inquiry. If an employee is ultimately refused the job because of the medical exam or inquiry, the reason for not hiring must be consistent with the needs of the business for that position, and the employer must show that no reasonable accommodation could be made that would ensure that the applicant could perform job functions. If an examination is made post-offer, it need not be directly related to job functions; however, if the employee is required to take a medical exam or inquiry after work has started, it must be directly related to job functions.
If you feel that your rights have been violated in the workplace, there is help! The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles complaints and enforcement related the ADA. They may remedy violations of the ADA with rehiring, back pay, court costs and attorney’s fees, and more. A charge must be filed within 180 days from the date the discrimination took place — so be aware the delays can damage your case!
Get help understanding the ADA from a Seattle employment attorney
An experienced employment attorney will also be able to review the incident, and help you collect documentation and evidence to strengthen your case before state agencies and the court system. An attorney who has successfully handled ADA cases before will understand how to properly document and present and ADA claim.
Questions about disability discrimination and the Americans With Disabilities Act? We are happy to answer them. Visit one of our offices in Seattle, Bellevue, and Vancouver or give us a call at 888-852-0068.