Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA prohibits a “covered entity” from discriminating against a “qualified individual with a disability.”  The law applies to job application procedures, hiring, advancement and discharge of employees, workers’ compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.

Generally speaking, a “covered entity” is an employer engaged in interstate commerce that has 15 or more employees.  A “qualified individual with a disability” is defined by the ADA (and its recent amendments) as a person with 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.  However, the ADA does not identify all of the impairments that are covered by the law.

In general, the employment provisions of the ADA require: (1) equal opportunity in selecting, testing, and hiring qualified applicants with disabilities; (2) reasonable job accommodation for applicants and workers with disabilities when such accommodations would not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer; and (3) equal opportunity in promotion and benefits.

The public access provisions of the ADA prohibit disability discrimination with respect to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation.