Do You Know Your Responsibilities as an Employer Under the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from discrimination based on their disability. It applies to employers who have 15 or more employees. As an employer, it is imperative that you comply with your responsibilities; otherwise you could find your business on the losing end of a lawsuit. At Greenlink Payroll, our HR specialists can help you understand your rights and responsibilities so that you remain compliant with the ADA.
Understanding the Purpose of the ADA
The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating due to a disability. This includes both physical and mental impairments. This protection makes it possible for individuals who have current health conditions, mental disabilities, or have previous conditions such as cancer, to pursue, obtain, and maintain gainful employment.
Recorded and Regarded Are the Same
Recorded disabilities are those that are documented via medical records that confirm the impairment—for instance, an individual who is currently undergoing chemotherapy as part of a cancer treatment regimen.
Where it gets confusing is that the ADA also protects individuals who are merely regarded as having a disability. For example, a former cancer patient who is denied a promotion based on the fear that their cancer will return.
Who Are Legitimate Individuals?
The ADA's rules don't mean that you have to hire anyone who applies for a job opening. They require that individuals meet the legitimate requirements for skills, experience, education, and other needs necessary to perform the essential job functions. In this regard, employers must remember that individuals can meet these requirements with the use of adaptive aids, which falls under the reasonable accommodations clause.
Don't Assume You're a Safe Harbor
Many owners of older businesses mistakenly believe their company was "grandfathered" under the 1990 ADA standards. There have been many updates to the ADA since then, and employers are required to adhere to the most recent set of standards. This includes standards for general accessibility and architectural design. Assuming your business is compliant based on the fact that you were compliant 30 years ago is potentially a very costly mistake.
Understanding the ADA, Leave, and FMLA
Individuals who have a substantial disability caused by physical or mental impairment have the right to request work-leave. However, the ADA allows employers to determine the duration and whether the leave will be paid or unpaid. It's important to note that employers are not required to grant work-leave if such leave would cause undue hardship to the business.
Many workers are protected by the FMLA. This includes workers who have performed a minimum of 1,250 hours over the past year, pregnant women and those who have adoped a child, and those who have a significant medical condition that lasts for three days or longer and requires medical treatment or hospitalization. It also allows caregivers and those who are family members of deployed National Guard and Reserve Personnel to request FMLA leave.
Follow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Closely
The EEOC is an invaluable source for up-to-date information regarding the ADA and other regulations employers must follow. Every business owner should make it part of their regular routine to check their website for updates and changes. These cover everything from FAQ's about the ADA, to the impact of COVID-19 on compliance.
Do you have questions about ADA compliance? Contact the HR professionals at Greenlink Payroll at (480) 385-2525. We will help you understand your rights and what you can do to protect your business.