Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

HR Glossary for HR Professionals

Glossary of the most common HR terms and acronyms to assist professionals navigating the ever-growing and ever-changing world of HR terminology.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, otherwise known as the ADA, is a civil rights law that was enacted in 1990 (amended in 2008) and prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The ADA ensures equal opportunities for people with disabilities in areas of public accommodations, employment, transportation, and government services. The purpose of the law it to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

ADA Compliance

The employment provisions of the ADA apply to businesses that have 15 or more employees on payroll. This includes full and part time employees. If you have several sites that are all owned, operated and managed by your business, then you must count all employees at these sites. If you have different sites that are not owned, operated, or managed by the same business, then you have to count all the employees only if your business is an “integrated enterprise.”

Who is Protected by the ADA?

The ADA protects the individual with a disability who is qualified for the job. The ADA doesn’t provide a list of disabilities, instead, has a legal test to decide if a person has a condition that is severe enough to be an ADA disability. 

The ADA defines a disability as: A medical condition or disorder that substantially limits a person in doing basic activities. 

The ADA also protects an individual who has a record of a disability or is regarded as having a disability.

Who is Affected by the ADA?

  1. Americans with disabilities, their friends, families and caregivers
  2. Private employers with 15 or more employees
  3. Business operating for the benefit of the public
  4. All state and local government agencies

Does the ADA Allow an Employer to Consider the Difficulty or Expense of a Reasonable Accommodation?

Yes, the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to a qualified person with a disability, unless it will cause an “undue hardship.”

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