On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law intended to make the American society more accessible to people with disabilities. The general purpose of this legislation is to extend the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, and national origin to persons with disabilities. This further protects individuals with disabilities in recruitment, preemployment screening, hiring, promotions, layoffs and termination's, and any other term, condition, or privilege of employment. Private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions are covered in the act. In addition, the ADA applies to all aspects of participation in society, including employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. The ADA prepares employees by providing appropriate information and personnel training on the provisions of the ADA, its relevance to the functioning of the organization as a whole, and the responsibilities of specific personnel.
Five Titles of the ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act is divided into five titles. Employment being the first, states that businesses must provide reasonable accommodations to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment. Possible changes may include restructuring jobs, altering the layout of workstations, or modifying equipment, Employment aspects may include the application process, hiring, wages, benefits, and all other aspects of employment. Medical exams are also highly regulated.
Title two, public services, which includes state and local government instrumentality's, cannot deny services to people with disabilities participation in programs or activities which are available to people without disabilities. In addition, public transportation systems, such as public transit buses, must be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
In title three, public accommodations are addressed. All new construction and modifications must be removed if readily achievable. Public accommodations include facilities such as restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, retail stores, etc., as well as privately owned transportation systems.
Title four, telecommunications, states that telecommunication companies offering telephone service to the general public must have telephone relay service to individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf or similar devices.
Finally, title five, miscellaneous, prohibits coercing or threatening or retaliating against the disabled or those attempting to aid people with disabilities asserting their rights under the ADA.
Who Meets Disabled Requirements?
A person may be considered disabled if he or she meets at least any one of the following requirements:
1. He or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities;
2. He or she has a record of such an impairment
3. He or she is regarded as having such an impairment
A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, learning or working.
If a person has a disability, they must be qualified to perform the essential functions or duties of a job, with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to be protected from job discrimination by the ADA.
There are other individuals who are protected in certain circumstances such as parents, who have an association with an individual known to have a disability, and those who are coerced or subjected to retaliation for assisting people with disabilities in asserting their rights under the ADA.
Other Interesting Facts of Employees Rights Under the ADA
If a person is applying for a job, an employer cannot ask if that person is disabled or ask about the nature or severity of the disability. An employer can ask, however, if the duties of the job can be performed with or without reasonable accommodation. An employer can also ask to describe or to demonstrate how, with or without reasonable accommodation, you will perform the duties of the job. An employer cannot require a recruit to take a medical examination before you are offered a job. Following the job offer, an employer can condition the offer on the recruits passing a required medical examination, but only if all entering employees for that job category have to take the examination. However, the employer cannot reject the applicant because of information about your disability revealed by the medical examination, unless the reasons for rejection are job-related and necessary for the conduct of the employer's business.
Persons who are currently using drugs illegally are not protected by the ADA and may be denied employment or fired on the basis of such use. The ADA does not prevent employers from testing applicants or employees for current illegal drug use.
Employee Rights. "Your Employment Rights As An Individual With A Disability Under The Americans With Disabilities Act Of 1990." Online. Internet. Available URL:
ADA Overview. "The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Brief Overview." Online. Internet. Available URL:
Jablonski, J. R. (1990). Implementing Total Quality Management-competing in the 1990's. Albuquerque, N.M.: Technical Management Consortium.