Friday, May 4, 2012

Reasonable Ccomadation

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slieThere may be as many as one thousand different disabilities that affect

over forty-three million Americans. Of all the laws and regulations governing

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the treatment of those Americans the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the

most recent major law. It was passed in 10 and although it is spelled out in

a technical ADA manual that is several hundred pages in length. Two of ADAs

two major sections, Titles II and III concern the operation of state and local

government and places of public accommodation. They require new public and

commercial facilities to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Modifications to existing facilities need to be made only if the cost is

readily achievable and does not cause an undue financial or administrative

burden. This essay will concentrate on Title I, the employment aspects of the

law. This section forbids employment discrimination against people with

disabilities who are able to perform the essential functions of the job with or

without reasonable accommodation.

This definition poses three main questions Who is considered disabled?

What is an essential function of a job? What is considered Reasonable


To be protected under the ADA an individual must have a physical or

mental impairment that substantially affects one or more major life activities.

The impairment may not be due to environmental, cultural, or economic

disadvantages. For example a person who cannot read because they have dyslexia

is considered disabled but a person who cannot read because they dropped out of

school is not. In addition persons who are perceived to be disabled are

protected by ADA. For example, if a person were to suffer a heart attack, when

he tries to return to work the boss might be scared the workload will be too

much and refuse to let him come back. The employer would be in violation of the

ADA because he perceives the employee as disabled and is discriminating based on

that perception. Two classes that are explicitly excluded from protection under

ADA are those individuals whose current use of alcohol or illegal drug is

affecting their job performance. However those who are recovering from their

former use of either alcohol or drugs are covered.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency

responsible for enforcing the ADA and other EEO laws that apply to most public

and private employers, separates job duties into two categories essential and

marginal. Essential functions are those duties that each person in a certain

position must do or must be able to do to be an effective employee. Marginal

functions are duties that are required of only some employees or are not

critical to job performance. The ADA requires that employers make decisions

about applicants with disabilities solely on the basis of

their ability to perform essential job functions.

Reasonable accommodations are the actions taken to accommodate the known

disabilities of applicants or employees so that disabled persons can enjoy equal

employment opportunities. Since it is not generally acceptable for a potential

employer to ask about a disability or conduct test such as HIV test to look for

disabilities, it is the responsibility of the applicant or employee to inform

the employer of the disability and needed accommodation. At that point the

employer must make reasonable accommodation for the known disability. An

employer may not deny employment in order to avoid providing the reasonable

accommodation unless it would cause an undue hardship. Even then the applicant

or employee should be given the option of providing accommodation himself.

The employment provisions began to be enforced for business with 5 or more

employees on July 6, 1. This affected approximately 64,000 employers. The

second phase of the employment provision went into affect July 6, 14, and was

implemented for the approximately 666,000 U.S. employers with 15 or more


Many opponents of the ADA suggested that the law would cost small

businesses too much. They contended that the legislation would backlog the

courts with lawsuits from scorned job applicants. However this has not been the

case. Over eighty percent of the discrimination complaints filed with the EEOC

have been entered by current employees who claim a prior disability or recently

disabled workers who contend that their employers have not reasonably

accommodated their needs under the law. According to EEOC records the most

common type of disabilities suffered by workers who claim employment

discrimination is back problems, which account for about eighteen percent of

complaints. Mental illness has the next largest portion of complaints, making

up about ten percent. It is followed by heart trouble, neurological disorders,

and diabetes. Only around twenty percent of all complaints filed argue that the

employer failed to provide them with reasonable accommodations for their jobs.

Ten percent of compla ints received claim that they have unfairly disciplined

because of their disability, while nearly four percent contend they have been

denied rightful benefits. Although the ADA was passed to bring disabled people

into the mainstream, these numbersjto jj jute0 i0uerjt

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