Passed into law in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. It’s important for employers to understand that the ADA protects the rights of both employees and job seekers, and that both mental and physical medical conditions are covered under the ADA.

Under the ADA, a covered disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a history of having such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.  Since 2008, when the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), further clarified and expanded the definition of “disability” to include impairments that “substantially limit” a major life activity, the number of people with covered disabilities has increased. Examples of “major life activities” include, but aren’t limited to, “caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentration, thinking, communicating, and working”.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcement of the provisions of the ADA that relate to employment.

Compliance with the ADA is challenging for many employers. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers information and free consulting services:

General information from JAN: The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Brief Overview

JAN also has a section of its website with information specifically for employers

A deep dive on ADA

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