Separating ADA fact from fiction

It has been slightly more than 27 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Despite the years, myths about the landmark legislation persist among employers, employees and others.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) dispels some of the persistent myths about the ADA with cold, hard facts. One of the more enduring fictions about the law passed in 1990 is that it forces employers to hire unqualified people with disabilities.

ODEP is clear that the ADA does no such thing, stating bluntly that “applicants who are unqualified for a job cannot claim discrimination under the ADA.” A person with a disability must be qualified – “must meet all requirements for a job,” ODEP says – in order to be protected under the ADA from discrimination in hiring.

Other myths dispelled by ODEP include the following:

  • If several people apply for a job and one of them is disabled, the ADA forces the employer to hire the disabled individual. False, says ODEP. Employers can hire who they like, “as long as the decision is not based on disability.”
  • The ADA gives a hiring advantage to people with disabilities. ODEP rebuts that myth with this simple statement of fact: “The ADA does not give hiring preference to persons with disabilities.”
  • It’s expensive for employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. ODEP points out that most workers with disabilities don’t need accommodations and that the cost for accommodations for employees who do need them is usually minimal.

Unfortunately, some employers are unwilling to provide reasonable accommodations, even when there is little or no cost to them.

When a reasonable accommodation has been refused, you can discuss your legal options with an attorney experienced in disability discrimination litigation. Contact our Milwaukee office for more information.


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