Weekly HR News - ADA

Weekly HR News – ADA

Employment Discrimination – Americans with Disabilities Act – Part 3 of 3

Who is a qualified individual and what is a reasonable accommodation?

The majority of this information was taken directly from the US EEOC Website, ADA: Questions and Answers.

A qualified individual with a disability is a person who meets the legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that he or she holds or seeks, and who can perform the "essential functions" of the position with or without reasonable accommodation. Requiring the ability to perform "essential" functions assures that an individual will not be considered unqualified simply because of inability to perform marginal or incidental job functions. If the individual is qualified to perform essential job functions except for limitations caused by a disability, the employer must consider whether the individual could perform these functions with a reasonable accommodation.

This is where a well written job description will come into play.  If a written job description has been prepared in advance of advertising or interviewing applicants for a job, this will be considered as evidence, although not necessarily conclusive evidence, of the essential functions of the job.

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or an adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified individual with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to assure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of nondisabled employees.

Examples of reasonable accommodation include making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by an individual with a disability; restructuring a job; modifying work schedules; acquiring or modifying equipment; providing qualified readers or interpreters; or appropriately modifying examinations, training, or other programs. Reasonable accommodation also may include reassigning a current employee to a vacant position for which the individual is qualified, if the person becomes disabled and is unable to do the original job. However, there is no obligation to find a position for an applicant who is not qualified for the position sought. Employers are not required to lower quality or quantity standards in order to make an accommodation, nor are they obligated to provide personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids.

The decision as to the appropriate accommodation must be based on the particular facts of each case. In selecting the particular type of reasonable accommodation to provide, the principal test is that of effectiveness, i.e., whether the accommodation will enable the person with a disability to do the job in question.  The website for the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides a practical guide for employers on reasonable accommodation, as well as information about accommodations for specific disabilities http://askjan.org//

For additional information on the ADA go to http://www.ada.gov/.  Questions regarding this or any other personnel matters can be directed to Andrea Shindlebower.