Implementing relevant provisions of the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) is incumbent upon companies with more than 15 employees. The ADA is the federal civil law that deals with employees with disabilities. The defining feature of this Act is that it prohibits employers from discriminatory practices against an employee who has a physical disability.
It applies to companies of all sizes and revenues, but the largest chunk that falls under the provisions of this Act is the small scale sector, which constitutes an overwhelming majority of the workforce. All but a handful –just 0.3 percent –of employers across the nation fall under the category of the small-scale sector.
How does the ADA classify a disability?
The ADA defines a disability as any physical or mental constraint that limits a person’s ability to perform natural functions such as standing, sleeping or walking. This category is not limited to those with blatant handicaps such as a person using a wheelchair or crutches, but also to those who suffer from a handicap that is not easily identifiable, such as hypertension, HIV, a hearing problem, or epilepsy and such others.
A disability could also be the result of diseases or accidents. Typically, a person who is undergoing treatments for life-threatening conditions such as cancer, or someone whose movements are restricted due to injury sustained in an accident also fall under this category. The law clearly states how these persons are to be treated.
How does a company implement sections of the ADA at the workplace?
The ADA lays out two clear criteria for which people are protected under its provisions. It states that first, the person with the disability should have the necessary skills and qualifications required of the job. Secondly, the disability should not come in the way of the person’s felicity in performing functions required of the job. When people who meet these criteria are discriminated against only because of the disability, it is considered a violation of the person’s rights.
The law states the following in relation to a disabled person:
- Such persons should be given an equal opportunity to both apply for jobs and to work in jobs for which they are qualified;
- These people must be given an equal opportunity to be promoted;
- They should not be denied equal access to employment privileges and benefits that other employees are entitled to, and
- The employer should take care to prevent harassment of such employees by their peers or colleagues for this reason.
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