Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)


A disabled employee working in a call center
Disability discrimination occurs when an employer, organization, or business covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mistreats a qualified employee or job seeker because of a disability. This form of discrimination also occurs when a covered employer or other entity mistreats an applicant or employee due to a non-transitory physical or mental impairment.

To protect disabled employees against workplace discrimination, the United States government strictly enforces the ADA. This statute ensures that disabled individuals are given equal rights and opportunities for employment, transportation, and other aspects of public life. But how does it actually apply in the workplace?

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Enacted in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals in a number of areas, including:

  • Employment
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Access to all public and private spaces

The ADA provides disabled persons with protection from discrimination on the basis of their disability. This is the same protection given to persons based on their race, color, gender, country of origin, age, and religion.

The law also ensures that disabled individuals will be given just opportunities in terms of the following aspects:

  • Work
  • Access to public spaces and transportation
  • State and local government services
  • Telecommunication services

Among its five sections, the ADA’s first clause gives protection to the individual rights of disabled workers and applicants. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that imposes this specific section. It covers both public and private employers with 15 or more employees. Title I forbids discrimination against disabled employees and applicants in recruitment, dismissal, training, and other employment practices.

What are the Rights of Disabled Employees Under the ADA?

One of the rights that disabled workers have under the ADA is access to reasonable accommodations. Employers or companies are obliged to provide disabled employees with these types of adjustments. However, they can choose not to do so if it will result in serious difficulty or expense on their part.

Reasonable accommodations are described as any changes that are made to the workplace or to the standard manner of work. These adjustments can assist disabled applicants and employees in job applications and execution of responsibilities at work, or help them enjoy various benefits which are usually given to non-disabled workers.

The following are examples of reasonable accommodations:

  • Adaptable or adjusted working hours
  • Changes to training materials and employee policies
  • Issuing new office equipment or making alterations to existing equipment
  • Creating a more accessible working environment for disabled workers
  • Job reorganization or reassignment
  • Providing interpreters

Which Discriminatory Acts are Prohibited by the ADA?

ADA prohibits a variety of discriminatory acts that could occur in the workplace. These include the following:

  • Discrimination in terms of recruitment, dismissal, job allocation, promotions, training, or any other conditions or requirements of employment.
  • Harassment against a job seeker or worker due to their existing or previous disability, or if they have a non-transitory and minor physical or mental disability. This specific act will only be considered unlawful if it creates a hostile work environment or if it leads to an unfavorable decision against the affected employee.

It also makes employer retaliation against a worker illegal. This situation could arise as a result of employees asserting their rights under the law when faced with discrimination.

Moreover, the ADA forbids employers from doing any of the following when addressing a job applicant’s medical history:

  • Asking the applicant to answer medical questions or take a medical examination prior to receiving a job offer.
  • Asking the applicant if they have any disabilities or inquiring about the nature of an obvious impairment.

Employers can only ask job applicants if they can execute the responsibilities that come with their desired position. They can also ask applicants how they will carry out the essential functions of the job. Both situations can take place with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Reporting Disability Discrimination

In order to report suspected disability discrimination in the workplace, affected employees must notify the EEOC immediately. Potential plaintiffs residing in California can contact or visit the state’s EEOC field office to file a disability discrimination claim. A charge of discrimination typically must be filed within 180 days of the alleged incident. However, this can be extended to 300 days if state or local rulings provide protection against disability discrimination. Affected employees have 90 days to file a lawsuit against their employer once they receive a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC.

If the EEOC concludes that discrimination on the basis of disability had occurred, you’re entitled to “a remedy that will place you in the position you would have been in if the discrimination had never occurred.” These encompass:

  • Hiring
  • Promotion
  • Reinstatement
  • Back wages
  • Reasonable accommodation, including job reassignment
  • Attorney’s fees

Seek Legal Assistance from Expert Disability Discrimination Lawyers

If you’ve experienced workplace discrimination or harassment as a result of your disability,
or haven’t been given reasonable accommodations under the ADA, Mesriani Law Group can help you process your claim for damages.

Our competent and aggressive Los Angeles-based disability discrimination attorneys have handled numerous claims arising from employment and labor law violations in California. We will work tirelessly to help you obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.


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