Title I of the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits private employers, state and local
governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating
against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application
procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and
other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers
employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.
It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations. The ADA's
nondiscrimination standards also apply to federal sector employees under
section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, and its implementing
An individual with a disability is a person who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that
substantially limits one or more major life activities;
- Has a record of such an impairment; or
- Is regarded as having such an impairment.
A qualified employee or applicant with a disability is
an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the
essential functions of the job in question. Reasonable accommodation may
include, but is not limited to:
- Making existing facilities used by employees
readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
- Job restructuring, modifying work schedules,
reassignment to a vacant position;
- Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices,
adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies,
and providing qualified readers or interpreters.
An employer is required to make a reasonable
accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee
if it would not impose an "undue hardship" on the operation of the
employer's business. Undue hardship is defined as an action requiring
significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such
as an employer's size, financial resources, and the nature and structure of
An employer is not required to lower quality or
production standards to make an accommodation; nor is an employer obligated
to provide personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids.
Title I of the ADA also covers:
- Medical Examinations and Inquiries
Employers may not ask job applicants about the existence, nature, or
severity of a disability. Applicants may be asked about their ability to
perform specific job functions. A job offer may be conditioned on the
results of a medical examination, but only if the examination is
required for all entering employees in similar jobs. Medical
examinations of employees must be job related and consistent with the
employer's business needs.
- Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Employees and applicants currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs
are not covered by the ADA
when an employer acts on the basis of such use. Tests for illegal drugs
are not subject to the ADA's
restrictions on medical examinations. Employers may hold illegal drug
users and alcoholics to the same performance standards as other
It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual
for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on disability or
for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way
in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under the ADA.
In Fiscal Year 2004, EEOC received 15,376 charges of
disability discrimination. EEOC resolved 16,949 disability discrimination
charges in FY 2004 and recovered $47.7 million in monetary benefits for
charging parties and other aggrieved individuals (not including monetary
benefits obtained through litigation).