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Qualification Standards

Under the ADA, people with disabilities must be “qualified.” According to the EEOC, a “qualified” individual with a disability can (1) satisfy the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements and (2) perform the essential functions of a position with or without reasonable accommodation.

The ADA does not prohibit employers from establishing qualification standards, as long as they are “job-related and consistent with business necessity” when applied to individuals with disabilities. This means that the qualification standards are an accurate measure of a person’s ability to perform a specific job.

For example, if an employer requires a valid driver’s license for a specific job, but driving is not an essential function of the job, the license requirement is not job related and consistent with business necessity and should not be used to screen out an applicant who cannot get a license because of a disability.

ADA requirements apply to all selection standards and procedures, including, but not limited to:

  • education and work experience requirements;
  • physical and mental requirements;
  • safety requirements;
  • paper and pencil tests;
  • physical or psychological tests;
  • interview questions; and
  • rating systems

If a person with a disability cannot meet a qualification standard that is job-related and consistent with business necessity, the employer must consider whether a reasonable accommodation would enable that person to meet the standard.

For example, if a job requires a person to be able to lift 50 pounds, but a person with a back impairment has a 25 pound lifting restriction, the employer must consider whether the person could lift 50 pounds using a lifting device.

For more information, see section II of the following EEOC publication: The Americans With Disabilities Act: Applying Performance And Conduct Standards To Employees With Disabilities.