Employment Law - Discrimination Based on Disability or Handicap
The ADA is a comprehensive federal law that protects qualified individuals with disabilities in employment. The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Specifically, the ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
The ADA holds that an individual with a disability is a person who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- Has a history/record of such an impairment or is regarded as having such an impairment/Perceived Impairment
- Is a qualified individual
- Must be a Qualified Individual
The ADA defines a qualified individual as one who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position. An employer is not obligated to hire disabled individuals who are not able to perform the job tasks. However, if the disabled individual requests a reasonable accommodation that would permit that employee to perform the job tasks, the employer is obligated to provide such accommodation.
- Reasonable Accommodation is a form of assistance provided by the employer to the disabled individual. Reasonable accommodations may include:
- Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;
- Job restructuring, modifying work schedules
- Reassignment to a vacant position
- Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices
- Adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies;
- Providing qualified readers or interpreters. For example, a deaf applicant may need a sign language interpreter during the job interview or an employee with diabetes may need scheduled breaks to eat properly and monitor blood sugar levels.
- Undue Hardship - An employer is not required to make a reasonable accommodation if it would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business. Undue hardship means an action that requires 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.
In addition to federal laws, the Illinois state laws, Cook County Human Rights Ordinance, and the City of Chicago Human Rights Ordinance also prohibit discrimination against the disabled. A claim of disability discrimination typically begins with the filing of a charge of discrimination. Click here for a list of the various agencies where one can file a charge of discrimination - take them to filing a charge.