The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) addresses the issues disabled people face. This includes unfair hiring and employment practices. Title I of the ADA prohibits discrimination with job application procedures, hiring, promotions and demotions, terminations, and job training. When actively recruiting and hiring employees, the ADA is a minefield for employers. Understanding the law may aid in preventing ADA violations when hiring.
Understand Who Is Covered by the ADA
The list of disabilities is long. Generally, anyone with a physical or mental impairment that limits major life activity may be considered to be disabled.
The ADA covers “qualified” disabled persons. So, what does “qualified” mean in reference to the ADA? An applicant who claims discrimination due to a disability must be able to actually do the job with or without reasonable accommodation. For example, an applicant with diabetes and a high school education applies for a job that requires a master’s degree in engineering. Having diabetes does not disqualify the person from the job. Lack of education does.
Be Careful Writing Your Job Postings
Employers cannot post a job using language that excludes people with disabilities. However, be specific about the actual requirements of the job. For example, if the job requires heavy lifting, you might state that the job requires someone who can lift 50 pounds.
Focus on the job requirements, not how they will be performed.
Provide Reasonable Accommodations
Depending on the job that is involved, reasonable accommodations might include:
- Moving the interview from an inaccessible location to an accessible one.
- Providing application and information materials in other formats, like large print or audiotape.
- Modify devices used during the application process, if not too expensive or burdensome.
- Providing additional time for testing.
It’s likely these accommodations will only be required for qualified individuals.
Do Not Ask Inappropriate Questions
Before an offer is made to an employee, employers are prohibited from asking about conditions that might be considered disabilities. Even if the disability is obvious, don’t ask about it. In fact, don’t ask about anything that might lead to a discussion about an applicant’s potential disability.
Don’t Have Different Requirements for Disabled Persons
For example, it can be unlawful to ask a disabled applicant to take a medical examination before or after hiring. It might be okay if all other applicants or employees for that position are required to undergo medical examinations. Avoid any sign that a disabled person is being treated different than a nondisabled person.
Still Have Questions?
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