The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, protects people who have a disability.
Among other things, the ADA prevents employers from unlawfully discriminating against disabled employees and job applicants. The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
To qualify for protection under the ADA, a worker will most often themselves have a condition that legally qualifies as a disability.
There are other ways to get protection under the ADA. For example the worker might have a relationship with a disabled person or seem to have a disability even if they in fact have no medical diagnosis.
The ADA gives workers a number of rights. What follows is a basic overview of these rights.
Disabled employees, applicants have the right to be free from discrimination
People with disabilities have the same rights to apply for and work at a job as anyone else.
An employer may not fire, refuse to hire or discipline an employee because they have a disability.
An employer may also not create policies, selectively enforce rules or do other things that have the effect of weeding out or excluding employees with disabilities.
An employer must also take steps to prevent any harassment based on a person’s disability.
They should make sure managers behave lawfully and appropriately at all times. They also must take steps to prevent harassment at the hands of colleagues and customers.
If harassment does occur based on a person’s disability, the employer must have a process for investigating and addressing the issue.
Disabled employees have the right to reasonable accommodations
Under the ADA, employees retain the right to insist on a safe workplace and to hire and keep employees who are qualified for and can do a particular job.
This means that some people, perhaps because of an illness or injury, will not be suited for certain job positions. The ADA does not make it otherwise.
However, employers do have to offer what is called reasonable accommodations to an employee with a disability so that the employee can perform a particular job.
Reasonable accommodations can include things like providing appropriate equipment or altering a person’s job schedule. What is or is not a reasonable accommodation will often depend on an employee’s unique circumstances.
If a Central Pennsylvania worker has a detailed question about their rights or whether the ADA would apply to their workplace situation, they should consider speaking with an experienced employment law attorney.