OHR | Americans with Disabilities FAQs

FAQ's About the Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment and in public services, public and private transportation, public accomodations and telecommunications services. In many ways, the ADA is an extension of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ADA will provide unions with the opportunity to provide assistance to members who may develop disabilities or who may have a hidden disability.

Table of Contents

Who must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act?
All employers and labor unions as defined under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must comply, including:
Private employers
Employment agencies
State and local governments
Labor organizations
Joint labor-management committees
Employers with 25 or more employees must comply with the provisions of the Act effective July 26, 1992. Employers with 15 or more employees have until July 26, 1994 to comply.

Exceptions--the term employer does not include:
the United States government, a corporation wholly owned by the U.S., or an Indian tribe; or
a bona fide private membership club (other than a labor organization) that is exempt from taxation under Section 501(C) of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended in 1986.


Who is protected by the Act?
As defined by the ADA, a person with a disability is an individual who:
has a physical or a mental impairment --either apparent or "hidden" --that substantially limits one or more of a person's major life activities. For example: limits on the ability to perform manual tasks, walking, seeing, speaking are apparent disabilities; whereas HIV/AIDS, a hearing impairment or a potentialy limiting condition that is controlled with medication like diabetes or epilepsy are normally "hidden" disabilities.
has a record of such an impairment. For example, a "record of such an impairment" could be recovery from cancer or a mental illness.
is regarded as having such impairment. For example, conditions that people mistakenly believe may cause negative public reaction like severe burns, a prominent facial scar, disfigurement, or an involuntary jerking of the head.


Which employment practices are covered?
The ADA prohibits employment discrimination against "qualified" individuals with a disability who, with or without "reasonable accomodation," can perform the essential functions of the job.

Essentially, the ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices such as: recruitment, hiring, promotins, training, lay-off, rates of pay, dismissal, job assignments, leave of absence, benefits, association or relationsip with person(s) with a disability, any other terms, conditions or privilege of employment.

Specifically the Act prohibits:
limiting/classifying/segregating any job applicant or employee because of a disability.
participating in any contract or other relationship that results in discrimination against qualified applicants or employees because of a disability.
not making reasonable accomodations to the known physical limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability, unless such accomodations would impose "undue hardship" on the operation of the business.
denying equal job opportunities to a qualified individual with a disability;
using qualifying standards, employment tests or other criteria that screen out an individual or class of persons with a disability.
retaliation against anyone for asserting their rights under the ADA.


What are the "essential functions" of a job?

The essential functions of a job are the basic duties of the employment position. In order to help determine if a job function is essential, you may want to consider the following:
the reason the position exists;
the degree of expertise or skills required to perform that function;
a written job description prepared before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job;
the amount of time spent on performing the function;
the consequences of not performing the function.


What is reasonable accomodation?
Reasonable accomodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, perform the essential functions of a job, and/or enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. An employer shall provide reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified person with a disability, unless doing so creates an undue hardship. Reasonable accomodations may include:
Purchasing or modifying equipment or devices
Job restructuring
Part-time or modified work schedules
Reassignment to a vacant position
Adjusting or modifying examinations
Writing new training materials or policies
Providing qualified readers or interpreters
Making the workplace readily accessible and usable by people with disabilities


What is "undue hardship"?
Undue hardship means that an accommodation would be unduly costly, extensive, substantial or disruptive, or would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.

An employer need not provide accomodations which would result in undue hardship.

Factors to consider include:
The nature and cost of the accommodation
The overall financial resources of the facility and covered entity
The number of persons employed at the facility or by the company as a whole
The effect on expenses and resources or other impact of such accommodation upon the operation of the facility and the company as a whole
The number, type and location of the company's facilities
The composition, structure and functions of the workforce.


What can victims of ADA discrimination do?
Keep a written record of all incidents regarding discriminatory behavior, including what was said, time, place and witnesses, if any.
Check with others in the workplace who might also be victims.
Contact your union for assistance.
File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The person discriminated against or someone acting on his/her behalf may file a charge of discrimination.


What remedies are available under the ADA?
Corrective action for ADA violations are available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Remedies may involve:

Reinstatement Seniority rights
Hiring Back pay
Reassignment Other compensation and benefits
Promotion Punitive and compensatory damages
Back pay awards cannot accrue from a date more than two years prior to the filing of a charge.

An employer may be required to pay reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the employee/applicant.


Where do I file a complaint if I feel I have been discriminated against?
The following federal government agencies will enforce these parts of the ADA:
Employment-the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Public Accommodations and Public Service (other than transportation)-United States Attorney General
Transportation-United States Secretary of Transportation
Telecommunications-Federal Communications Commission



Your Union;
State or local representing or providing services to individuals with disabilities or vocational rehabilitation agencies;
Job Accommodation Network (JAN) at 1-800-526-7234;
EEOC at 202-663-4900 or 800-669-EEOC; TDD 202-663-4494 or 800-800-3302;
U.S. Attorney General at 202-514-0381; TDD 202-514-0381;
U.S. Department of Transportation at 202-366-9305; TDD 202-755-7687;
Federal Communications Commission at 202-632-7260; TDD 202-632-6999;
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board at 800-USA-ABLE;
Internal Revenue Service for federal disability tax credits and deductions at 202-566-2000.
The U.S. Justice Department has a gopher site devoted strictly to the ADA. It's at gopher://usdoj.gov/1/crt/ada.
Here's a Web site on the Employee Relations Web Picks site (www.webcom.com/~garnet/labor/ada.html). It's devoted to the ADA and has lots of good information.


author, Gary Woitena,
Secretary-Treasurer CWA Local 6143

E-MAIL: 71363.320@Compuserve.Com

URL: http://www.igc.apc.org/cwatx/ada.html

Copyright ©:1992, AFL-CIO,
Revised October 20, 1995