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What should you know about disability discrimination and the ADA?

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Employment Law (Employee)

Most of our readers in Pennsylvania know that the Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees and potential employees from discrimination based on mental or physical disabilities. But, how does that type of discrimination occur? What is a disability? And what does the ADA do to attempt to prevent disability discrimination?

ADA and discrimination basics

For starters, our readers should know that disability, under the law, is defined broadly. In general, as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission notes on its website, a disability is something either mental or physical that “substantially limits” a person’s ability to perform a “major life activity.” That could include activities like walking, hearing or even talking, for example.

Disability discrimination could occur in a number of ways. Just like other forms of discrimination, some examples include different treatment when it comes to promotions or training opportunities. Or, a potential employee could be denied a job because of a disability. And, of course, harassment in the workplace could occur too – and if it is serious enough and persistent enough that harassment could fall into the definition of discrimination.

The ADA contains a provision for reasonable accommodations to try to help prevent disability discrimination. Under this provision, employers must change the way they do things to accommodate the skills of a person with disabilities. This could include improved use of technology to communicate, for example, or simple structural changes to workspaces to make the areas more accessible.

Whatever the idea might be, if a proposed reasonable accommodation would be an undue hardship for the employer, the employer is not required to implement it.