As you probably already know, running a business is not as simple as producing products or providing services. There are numerous laws and government Acts to which companies must comply if they employ individuals to work for them; the American with Disabilities Acts (ADA) is one of those laws.
The ADA is an act of Congress that gives certain civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities. It guarantees that Americans with a disability receive equal opportunity in regard to transportation, telecommunications, employment, public accommodations, and state and local government services. According to the ADA, more than 50 million Americans have disabilities, and should someone with a disability apply to work at your company, and/or get hired, there are a few things that you should know so that you can be prepared.
So, how can you ensure that your business is compliant with the ADA? Ask yourself these three questions:
1. How many employees do I have?
If you have more than 15 employees, you are required by law to comply with the ADA, so keep reading. If not, cross this one off your list—you're presently exempt from this law.
2. Have any applicants or employees indicated that they have a disability?
If an applicant notifies you of a disability, you must give them the same consideration during the hiring process as you would with any other applicant. If the applicant can fulfill the duties of the job despite their disability, with reasonable accommodation, the law prevents you from discriminating against them due to their ailment. For example, if an applicant uses a wheelchair and is applying for a receptionist position, and has demonstrated that he/she is qualified and capable of completing the duties of the job, like any other applicant, he/she should be considered for the position.
Likewise, if an applicant with a disability applies for a position that requires him/her to stand for long periods of time or operate heavy machinery, and there is no reasonable accommodation that will allow them to perform those duties , you are well within your rights to disqualify the applicant from consideration for the job.
3. Have you made "reasonable accommodations" for employees with disabilities?
The law requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to an employee's work environment to allow a qualified employee with a disability to perform the necessary job duties. This includes things such as:
Adjustments to work schedules and hours
Specialized equipment, and more
For example, if an employee is blind, and needs adaptive equipment installed on his/her computer to ensure he/she can perform the job like their peers, you will probably be required to make this accommodation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also requires employers to provide disabled employees access to the same benefits and privileges as their non-disabled counterparts. This includes training, on-site cafeterias, break rooms, or lounges, and employer-sponsored social functions.
There are a number of resources available to businesses of all sizes through the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). There you can find creative ways to implement accommodations in your business, hear success stories from a diverse number of employers from across the U.S., and dive deeper into the requirements imposed on businesses by the ADA and best practices to comply with the same.