The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990 and applies to employers with 15 or more employees including state and local government, employment agencies and labor organizations. Among other things, the ADA prohibits employees from discriminating in all aspects of employment, including hiring, promotions, discharge, training, and benefits against employees with disabilities.
The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The ADA also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on that person’s association with a person with a disability.
If an employee qualifies as disabled as defined by the ADA, they are entitled to a reasonable accommodation to facilitate their continued employment, so long as they can perform the essential functions of the job for which they are hired. An employer does not have to make reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee if it will cause an undue burden, which is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as an employer’s size, financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation. An employer is not required to lower production or quality standards to accommodate a disabled employee.