Nebraska Legislative Series: Guide to ADA
The modern era has witnessed our country making great strides towards protecting citizens considered to be disabled. This is in large part due to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), considered to be one of the most detailed bits of civil rights legislation ever written. Outlining protections against discrimination for those with disabilities in three separate sections – Titles I, II, and III – the ADA ensures abled and disabled can live, work, and interact with their communities equally. The act defines disability as a person having a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more life activities, a person with a history of having had such impairments, or people who are considered by others as being impaired. Disabilities can range a wide gamut of conditions, from physical conditions such as blindness, deafness, or mobility-related disabilities, to developmental, neurological, and other conditions based around bodily function.
In this blog, home health services provider Hands of Heart summarizes the three sections of the ADA and the protections it provides to our Bellevue and Omaha communities of adults with developmental disabilities as well as communities across the country.
Title I – Employment
The first section of the ADA deals extensively with protections of people with disabilities in the workplace. It deals primarily with protections that ensure the disabled cannot be discriminated against based on their disability. Companies that employ 15 or more people are required under the ADA to provide an equal chance to benefit from all of the opportunities afforded by being employed. It protects the disabled from discrimination and harassment on the job, as well as from discipline or being terminated due to their disability. Several stipulations of note under Title I protect both the employee and the employer:
Potential Employees with Disability Must Still Be Qualified
In order to be protected under Title I, a potential employee must be qualified to perform the job, regardless of their disability status. They must have experience, knowledge, or training pertinent to the essential job functions of a role in order to be protected and must be able to perform in the role, with or without reasonable accommodations. Title I outlines how clearly what sorts of changes to rules, practices, policies, or job performance standards can be made in order to constitute an effort to provide reasonable accommodations, but generally speaking cannot impose an undue hardship on the employer.
Inquiries Into Disability Cannot be Part of Interview Process
There are a number of disability-related topics that an employer cannot make inquiries about as part of the employment process. Nothing about disability, health, medications, or history of hospitalizations can be brought up in the hiring process. An employer may, however, mandate a universal policy of requiring a medical exam prior to employment as long as it is required after employment has been offered or before the employee’s first day, so as not to be considered a prerequisite to be offered a position.
Title II – Protection from Public Entities
In an earlier iteration of protection for the disabled, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, individuals were only protected from discrimination in institutions receiving federal aid. However, Title II expands that coverage to entities considered to be public entities as well, that is federal, state, and local programs and services must also remain accessible regardless of disability. As with the first section of the ADA, Title II disallows screening methods for disabilities, equal access to events and facilities, and reasonable accommodations to be made where possible. This portion of the ADA also deals with building access and building requirements related to persons with disabilities.
Title III – Protection from Discrimination of Public Accommodations
The third section of the ADA expands protections for people with disabilities to private entities that operate businesses of public accommodation. This is essentially an extension of rights to cover recreation, retail, entertainment, hospitality, food service, and all categories of commerce, to ensure those who are disabled have access to the widest range of services and businesses. It specifically does not cover private residences, private clubs, religious organizations, or entities specifically covered by Title II.
Hands of Heartland Doing Our Part
It’s important for the disabled to have equal access to facilities, services, and especially employment opportunities. Hands of Heartland specialize in working with local businesses on matching and creating work opportunities for people with IDD. These supported employment programs are vital to the community integration of those under our care. To learn more about supported employment and how we help potential employees and employers navigate the ADA, reach out to our team of professionals.