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Employment law

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of America's most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life—to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in state and local government programs and services.

To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered. The ADA is located in the United States Code, beginning at 42 U.S.C. §12101.

Under the ADA, an employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation for a job applicant or employee with a disability. A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.

For example, reasonable accommodation may include:

• acquiring or modifying equipment or devices

• job restructuring

• part-time or modified work schedules

• reassignment to a vacant position

• adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies

• providing readers and interpreters

• making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

It is a violation of the ADA to fail to provide reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified individual with a disability—unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. Undue hardship means that the accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense.

Workers with disabilities must have equal access to all benefits and privileges of employment that are available to similarly situated employees without disabilities. Thus, the duty to provide reasonable accommodation also applies to all non-work facilities provided or maintained by the employer for its employees.

This includes cafeterias, lounges, auditoriums, and company-provided transportation and counseling services. If making an existing facility accessible would be an undue hardship, the employer must provide a comparable facility that will enable a person with a disability to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment similar to those enjoyed by other employees, unless this would be an undue hardship.

An employer must make its facilities accessible to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities as a reasonable accommodation, unless this would cause undue hardship.

In Texas, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the ADA is to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Employers in Texas are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified job applicants and employees with disabilities, unless such accommodations would cause undue hardship to the business. Reasonable accommodations could include modifications to the work environment, job restructuring, modified work schedules, or providing accessibility in the workplace. The ADA's protections cover not only the work tasks but also extend to the benefits and privileges of employment, such as access to company facilities. Texas employers must comply with the ADA and ensure that their employment practices do not discriminate against individuals with disabilities.

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