Your rights at work under the Americans with Disabilities Act

People with disabilities in Wisconsin and around the country have specific rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA provides specific workplace protections to workers who require accommodations due to their disability.

Americans with Disabilities Act explained

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a set of employment laws that make it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers or applicants with disabilities. Employers cannot treat an employee differently in the areas of hiring, promotion, salary increases, termination or work projects or responsibilities.

Employers are also required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities when they request them. The one exception to this rule is if providing them would result in an undue hardship for the employer. Reasonable accommodations include a variety of options to help workers with disabilities be able to perform the regular functions of their jobs. Some examples include modifying a workstation for an employee in a wheelchair, providing a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) phone for hearing-impaired employees and special speech software for visually impaired workers.

Understanding who is covered under the ADA

Only employees with disabilities are covered under the ADA. A disability is considered a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits at least one major activity that most people take for granted. Although some disabilities are visibly obvious, others cannot be seen by the naked eye. For example, hearing impairments are not immediately obvious.

In order for a worker or job applicant to be protected by the ADA, they must be fully qualified for the tasks required with the job. This is the case regardless of whether or not the person needs reasonable accommodations. Regular working duties fall under the category of being essential to the job, but secondary tasks do not count. For example, if an employee who uses a wheelchair regularly uses a computer to perform administrative tasks, those would be their main job duties. Filing books onto a bookshelf in a supply closet would be considered a secondary task outside of the expected duties of their job.

Workers with disabilities who face discrimination have the right to launch a formal complaint against their employer. If you need assistance, contact the employment attorneys at Alan C. Olson & Associates.

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