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What protections does the ADA afford employees?

The Americans with Disabilities Act is meant to afford individuals in Wisconsin who are disabled with protection from discrimination in the workplace. Interestingly, the protections offered by the act are not only extended to those who suffer from disabilities. Those who have relationships with a person, such as a worker with a disabled spouse, might also be covered by the act.

According to the language in the ADA, a person's disability cannot be the basis of decisions made regarding employment. For example, an employer is barred from making decisions on hiring, firing, pay and promotions based on a person's disability.

The act also mandates that an employer must provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or prospective employee who is disabled. Additionally, disabled individuals are protected from harassment. While individual incidents are not considered illegal, frequent or particularly harsh incidents might constitute a hostile working environment, which is covered by the act.

Another important point about the ADA is that the safeguards in the act are not universal. The ADA only applies to certain employers.

Coverage depends on the size of the employer and the length of time employees have worked for that employer. Furthermore, federal employees and applicants are covered by a different piece of legislation known as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which offers comparable safeguards.

Finally, in some cases, providing reasonable accommodation to a disabled worker might present an employer with undue hardship, which could mean that the ADA doesn't apply.

The protections offered by the act do not apply in all cases, and every worker's situation is different. An attorney who is experienced in employment law and discrimination cases could review a client's case and determine the applicability of ADA protections.

Source: EEOC.gov, "Americans with Disabilities Act", July 28, 2014

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