The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 to increase the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of life, including employment. Title I, which is focused on employment, prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all employment practices and employment-related activities, such as recruitment, job conditions and benefits, compensation, training, advancement, leave and termination.
Title I of the ADA is applicable to private employers with 15 or more employees and state and local government. In 2008, the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) was passed, further broadening the definition of a disability.
The ADA does not include a list of covered disabilities; instead, to determine if a mental or physical impairment is considered a disability, it must “substantially limit” one or more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, eating, sleeping, walking, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, reading, thinking, communicating, or impact major bodily functions such as the immune system, bowel, bladder, digestive, neurological or reproductive functions.
How can my company recognize this historic milestone? Some ideas are reviewing your company’s diversity mission statements, webpage accessibility, job descriptions, accommodations process, the physical accessibility of your office building, training your hiring managers to properly conduct job interviews for individuals with disabilities, soliciting employee feedback on making your company more inclusive, or increasing your education through webinars such as the SHRM Foundation’s Employing Abilities @ Work.
The ADA is more important than just being legally compliant, it is including your employees with disabilities in every aspect of your company.
Bailey Cummins, PHR, is a member of the HRinDemand team, a human resources company in Reno, NV, offering expert guidance and easy-to-use tools to help small businesses with employment regulations, compliance, employee relations, and company growth.
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy. The Americans with Disabilities Act. https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ADA.htm
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. ADA Amendments Act of 2008 Frequently Asked Questions. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ofccp/faqs/americans-with-disabilities-act-amendment