Overview: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is cracking down on employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities (a more preferred term than “disabled employees”) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An individual is considered disabled under the ADA if he or she: (i) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (ii) has a record of such an impairment; or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment. Employers need to apply this definition broadly and are wise to focus more on the interactive process and the duty to accommodate the individual. In addition, because many states and municipalities have laws that define what constitutes a disability, employers should check their state/local law to ensure full compliance.
Employers should also ensure they have the required ADA poster and supplement in locations that can be easily seen by applicants and employees and that their policies, programs and practices follow the purpose and language of the amended ADA.
Trends: With the passage of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), many more individuals fall within the ADA's definition of disability. The growing definition of disability is another reason why an employee who has a disability wants to be considered an individual with a disability, as opposed to being a disabled employee. Therefore, employer focus on the interactive process and reasonably accommodating employees - and not on whether the individual is disabled - is increasingly paramount.
"No fault" leave or attendance policies under which employees are automatically terminated after being on leave for a specific period of time can be considered a violation of the ADA if the policy or practice fails to incorporate an interactive process to assess whether additional leave may be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. The EEOC has targeted several employers - to the tune of millions of dollars - challenging such no-fault leave policies.
Author: Melissa S. Burdorf, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect information on a court ruling regarding reasonable accommodations.
Updated to reflect forthcoming Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act regulations.
Updated to reflect the forthcoming medical marijuana law.
Updated to reflect forthcoming pregnancy accommodation requirements.
Updated to reflect new regulations prohibiting discrimination against an individual because of his or her association with an individual with a disability.
This resource has been updated to include information on a recent court ruling regarding reasonable accommodations for an employee associated with an individual with a disability.
Revised to incorporate the Medical Marijuana Act, effective May 17, 2016.
Responding to an all-time high rate of disability charges filed in fiscal year 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a new publication reiterating an employer's obligation, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to provide leave as a reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities.
HR guidance on handling employees with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Support on the many regulations of the ADA.