In 1990, then-president George Bush signed a new law that was known as the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is national legislation aimed at broadening the civil rights protection given to persons with qualifying disabilities. Many Florida businesses or property owners have had to learn about the ADA and ensure that their practices and facilities are in line with this law. This requires a good level of understanding about what exactly the Americans with Disabilities Act does and does not require from employers.
According to the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, discrimination in the world of employment contracts and employer-employee relationships can be defined in many ways including the following:
- Denying employment to a disabled person who is qualified to perform the job duties with or without reasonable accommodation based upon the disability.
- Holding job applicants to standards impossible to be met by disabled persons.
- Utilizing pre-employment testing methods that are unfair to persons with disabilities.
- Failing to make reasonable accommodations to allow disabled people to perform specific jobs.
- Not offering employment benefits to disabled employees equal to what non-disabled employees receive.
Some administrative processes or contractual relationships may also be deemed unfair to people with disabilities, putting employers at risk of employment litigation.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission outlines some of the forms of accommodation deemed to be reasonable means of protecting employees’ civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. These include making physical buildings and facilities accessible by installing ramps or elevators instead of forcing employees to utilize stairs; restructuring job duties so that persons with disabilities can more easily and effectively perform jobs; and providing training or assisting technology such as TTD devices.
Businesses are only expected to provide accommodations if those accommodations do not put undue hardship on the businesses. Business disputes that are based upon the ADA and its provisions may focus on any aspect of the hiring, firing, training, promotion and compensation of disabled applicants or employees. Companies with more than 14 employees are required to abide by this law and this includes private as well as public or federal entities. Employers are also bound by the law to respect the confidentiality of peoples’ disabilities and therefore not ask for details about such disabilities. This information is not to be taken as legal advice, but merely a general understanding of the ADA.