Employers have a legal duty of care for all of their workers. But providing that care for workers with physical or mental disabilities can be complicated. Under the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA), it’s illegal for businesses to discriminate against employees with known physical or mental ailments. However, many of these workers can provide value to any organization when given the proper tools for success.
Because this matter is complicated, many need to know how to handle these situations appropriately and legally.
Are all employers required to abide by the ADA?
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the ADA applies to private employers, state and local governments, labor unions, and businesses that have 15 or more employees.
Are their qualifications judged differently?
A primary concern among many employers is that they may have to hire someone with a disability, even if they’re not qualified. However, that is not the case. The person with the disability must have the right skills and qualifications for a position. They must also be able to perform the essential functions of the job.
Do employers have to familiarize themselves with all types of disabilities?
No. employers typically only need to worry about accommodating known disabilities. In most cases, the employee or applicant is the one who can decide to disclose their disability and request reasonable accommodations.
Do I have to make any adjustments the worker asks for?
The ADA states that employers can set their reasonable accommodation standards. If a worker with a disability makes a request the employer finds unreasonable, they must prove the accommodation would place undue hardship on them in terms of costs or quality of work.
What are some examples of reasonable accommodations?
As workers’ conditions can vary, many accommodations are both affordable and effective. Some of those include:
- Modified work schedules
- Modified workplace equipment
- Modified workspace layouts for those with physical disabilities
- Extra training or test materials
- Quiet workspaces or noise-canceling headphones
- Brail materials for blind workers
- Allowing service animals in the workplace
- Accessible computer software
Disability rights can be confusing
ADA cases are more common than ever before. Because of this, employers must make sure they understand their rights are and how they can balance accommodations with their bottom line and duty to customers.