Everything You Need to Know About the Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.  Legal issues associated with the ADA tend to be complicated.  Accordingly, it is important for you to understand your legal rights and employer obligations in this context.      

What is the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)? 

The ADA is a federal law enacted in 1990 in the United States. Its purpose is to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities and to ensure equal opportunities in various aspects of life, including employment. The ADA generally protects qualified individuals who can perform the essential functions of their job with or without a reasonable accommodation.  

Who is a Qualified Individual Under the ADA?

Under the ADA, a “qualified individual” refers to a person with a disability who meets the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of a particular employment position that they either hold or seek. To be considered a qualified individual under the ADA, the person must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations.

What is Considered an Undue Hardship under the ADA?

Employers are not required to provide a reasonable accommodation if doing so would impose an undue hardship on the business.  Under the ADA, an “undue hardship” refers to significant difficulty or expense that an employer would face in providing a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability. 

Can an Employer Ask For Proof of a Disability?

Yes, under certain circumstances, an employer can request proof of a disability when an employee makes a reasonable accommodations request under the ADA. However, there are important considerations to keep in mind: When an employee requests a reasonable accommodation, the employer is allowed to ask for documentation that verifies the existence of the disability and the need for accommodation. The documentation should come from an appropriate healthcare professional, such as a doctor, psychologist, or other qualified medical expert. However, employers should not ask for more information than is necessary to establish that the individual has a disability and requires an accommodation. 

Can an Employer Ask You About Your Disability?

For current employees, generally, employers should not make disability-related inquiries or conduct medical examinations unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity.  However, if an employer has a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that an employee’s ability to perform essential job functions is impaired by a medical condition, they may make disability-related inquiries or require a medical examination.

If You Need Help Understanding the ADA, Our Employment Lawyers Can Help

Given the complexity of the ADA and disability discrimination issues, it is important to consult with a New Jersey employment attorney so that you can understand your rights and obligations. If you need any assistance with the ADA and/or believe you may have been subject to disability discrimination in the workplace, please contact Curcio Mirzaian Sirot LLC

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