Review Employment Policies for Discrimination

Article excerpt

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which will become effective July 26, 1992, prohibits various entities from discriminating against disabled persons. The law applies to employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. Title I of the ADA specifically deals with employment discrimination.

The general rule stated in Title I is that "no covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment."

During the first two years of implementation, the ADA will govern employers who have 25 or more employees per work day for 20 or more weeks of the current or preceding year. After that, the threshold number of employees drops to 15 per work day.

Although the ADA does not take effect until 1992, you should note that handicap discrimination in employment is already prohibited by most state statutes. Also, many municipalities have local ordinances which cover those employers who fall through the cracks under the state and federal law. Some employers are exempt under the ADA, such as bona fide private membership clubs (other than labor organizations) which are tax exempt under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The ADA protects qualified individuals with disabilities - those who, with or without reasonable accommodation - can perform the essential functions of the job at issue. A disabled individual under the ADA is one who (a) has a physical or mental impairment substantially limiting one or more of his or her major life activities, (b) has a record of such impairment, or (c) is regarded as having such an impairment.

Understanding Discriminating Practices

The key to conducting business under the ADA is understanding what conduct constitutes "discrimination." The following is a list of discriminatory practices:

* limiting, segregating, or classifying a job

applicant or employee based on a disability

in a way that adversely affects such

an individual's opportunities or status;

* participating in a contractual relationship

(such as an employment agency or

training program) which discriminates

based on disability;

* using standards or methods of administration

which perpetuate discrimination;

* denying jobs or benefits to one who

associates with a person who has a

known disability;

* failing to make "reasonable accommodations"

for known physical or mental

disabilities of an otherwise qualified individual - unless

the employer shows

"undue hardship" on the business;

* denying opportunities to otherwise qualified,

disabled persons based on the

employer's desire not to make reasonable

accommodation;

* screening out disabled individuals - unless

the screening is job-related and consistent

with business necessity;

* failing to adjust testing methods to accommodate

disabilities (except if such

test is designed to detect disabilities and

authorized under the ADA). …