Many people believe that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is focused mainly on preventing discrimination for those with disabilities seeking employment. What they may not realize is that ADA legislation is also there to provide job security to those who become disabled while already employed, whether the disability is job-related or not. First, a little background on the ADA.
What is the ADA?
The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush (we just posted a story remembering the late president and all he did for those with disabilities; you can read more about it here). With the stroke of Bush’s pen, the new ADA made discrimination illegal and specifically noted five key factors:
Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities
Housing must provide reasonable accommodations to residents with disabilities
Public transportation must provide reasonable accommodations to riders with disabilities
Telecommunications companies must provide services for the deaf or hard-of-hearing
Service animals must be granted full access to public spaces
The ADA gave “federal civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.”
Since the signing of the ADA, rates of employment among disabled Americans has steadily increased, however it still about half of that for those without disabilities (36% versus 77%) demonstrating that there is still some work to be done.
ADA Job Protections
The ADA is as proactive as it is reactive. For those who find themselves unexpectedly disabled while currently employed, the ADA sets forth legal compliances that employers must adhere to or face possible penalty (the ADA refers to a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits any major life activity, including impairments that significantly limit speaking, seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, and the ability to perform manual tasks).
The ADA states that workers have the right to accommodation, which is a change in workplace policies, facilities, or how work is performed. They also need to consider how an individual might be able to return to work with an accommodation even if they are still hindered due to disability. This could include allowing them to perform lighter duty work, permitting their service animal, and other reasonable accommodations. This keeps an employee productive and on the payroll at the same time.
Another aspect of work accommodation is the right to work leave—to be used as a last resort. Regardless of the choice, employers must grant some form of legal accommodation for any worker who becomes substantially limited due to physical or mental impairment, according to the ADA Center.
There are a lot of situations covered by the ADA that may not be obvious. Impairments such as diabetes, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, for instance. Courts have often ruled that pregnancy impairments—such as anemia, cervical insufficiency, or gestational diabetes—are also classified as disabilities. Not only does the ADA protect the security of an individual’s employment, but also how he or she is treated within their position: job assignment, training, promotions, wages, benefits, leave, and other employment practices.
Have ADA-Related Questions?
Thanks to the Americans with Disability Act, employing and keeping people employed is a right extended to millions that may otherwise find themselves jobless and unemployable. The Disability Experts of Florida remains vigilant when it comes to protecting the rights of the disabled and helping them achieve the benefits they are entitled to. If you feel you’ve been unfairly discriminated against due to disability and would like to contact one of our caring experts, you can speak with us at 855-777-0455 or reach us online here.