Employers' Practical Guide to Reasonable Accommodation
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
I. ADA BASICS
- A. What is the ADA?
- B. Who must comply with Title I of the ADA?
- C. Who is protected by Title I of the ADA?
- D. What is a reasonable accommodation?
This section provides answers to basic questions about the ADA. Most of the answers come from formal and informal guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the ADA. When available, links to the EEOC guidance are provided.
The ADA is a federal civil rights law that was passed in 1990 and went into effect beginning in 1992. Its purpose is to protect people with disabilities from discrimination in employment, in the programs and activities offered by state and local governments, and in accessing the goods and services offered in places like stores, hotels, restaurants, football stadiums, doctors' offices, beauty parlors, and so on. The focus of this guide is Title I of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination in employment and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. For more information about the ADA, see the ADA Handbook at http://askjan.org/media/adahandbook/handbook.html. For a copy of Title I of the ADA, see http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/ada.html.
Only "covered entities" must comply with Title I of the ADA. The term covered entities includes employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint labor-management committees. For simplicity, this guide will refer to covered entities as "employers." For more information about covered entities, see http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/threshold.html#2-III-B.
Title I protects "qualified employees with disabilities." The term qualified means that the individual satisfies the skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the position sought or held, and can perform the primary job tasks of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation.
For additional information about the definition of qualified, see http://askjan.org/links/ADAtam1.html#II.
The term employee means, "an individual employed by an employer." The question of whether an employer-employee relationship exists is fact-specific and depends on whether the employer controls the means and manner of the worker's work performance. For additional information about the definition of employee, see http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/threshold.html#2-III-A-1.
The term disability means: (1) a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (2) a person with a record of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, and (3) a person who is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
For more information about the definition of disability, visit How to Determine Whether a Person has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at http://askjan.org/corner/vol02iss04.htm.