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ADA: An Overview - Supervisor Briefing

Author: Meryl Gutterman, formerly of Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, P.C.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with a disability with regard to:

  • Job application procedures;
  • Hiring, advancement and termination;
  • Employee compensation and job training; and
  • Other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.

Congress amended the ADA with the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which took effect January 1, 2009. Under the ADAAA, Congress:

  • Encourages employers to take a broader view when evaluating whether an individual is considered disabled under the law; and
  • Redirects employers to focus on whether they have complied with their accommodation obligations under the law.

In light of this, an employer's efforts will be more heavily scrutinized in regard to engaging in the interactive process (i.e., the dialogue and exchange of information between an employer and employee in connection with efforts to reasonably accommodate the employee's limitations), providing accommodations and avoiding the perception of regarding employees as disabled. Many times supervisors are the individuals to whom employees go with accommodation requests. Therefore, it is critical that supervisors know how to recognize and respond to an employee's request for accommodation.

This Supervisor Briefing examines the law and best practices concerning how a supervisor should comply with the ADA as amended by the ADAAA, and answers the following questions:

  1. Who Must Comply With the ADA?
  2. What Is a Disability?
  3. What Is a Major Life Activity?
  4. What Is a Substantial Limitation?
  5. Who Is a Qualified Individual Under the ADA?
  6. What Is an Employer's Duty to Accommodate?
  7. What Is a Reasonable Accommodation?
  8. What Is an Undue Hardship?
  9. What Supervisor Actions Are Prohibited by the ADA?
  10. Test Yourself

Please refer to ADA: Managing an Employee With a Disability - Supervisor Briefing for a more in-depth analysis on the law and best practices concerning how a supervisor should manage an employee with a disability.