A Quick Look at the ADA: Title I – Employment

Throughout July we’re celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by exploring the research and resources available to help people with disabilities, employers, business owners, and government entities understand their rights and responsibilities under this landmark legislation. The ADA is divided into five sections or Titles, each covering different areas including employment, state and local government, public accommodations, transportation, and miscellaneous (which includes topics like impact on insurance and benefits, relationship to state laws, and what may not be considered a disability, among others). Today we’ll look at Title I: Employment.

This title is designed to help people with disabilities access the same employment opportunities and benefits available to people without disabilities. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees. A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable an applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. 

– ADA National Network, “What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?”

If you’re a job seeker or an employee, how do you know if your condition or injury is considered a disability under the ADA? What is an accommodation and how do you request one? If you’re a business owner, executive, or hiring manager, how do you know if the ADA applies to you and your company? What are your responsibilities when it comes to accommodations? How can you create an inclusive workplace?  In this Quick Look, we’ve gathered just a sampling of resources from the NIDILRR grantee community and elsewhere to get you started in answering these questions, and recommendations for your next steps to learning more.

Employees/Job seekers with disabilities

Who is a qualified individual and what are essential job functions? – a quick overview and video from the ADA National Network’s Frequently Asked Questions files.

Your Employment Rights as an Individual with a Disability – a detailed booklet from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explaining this title that prohibits job discrimination. The EEOC is tasked with enforcing Title I.

Do I Tell My Boss? Disclosing my Mental Health Condition at Work (PDF) – this tipsheet from the Learning and Working During the Transition to Adulthood Rehabilitation Research and Training Center is aimed at young adults with mental health conditions entering the workforce, but it’s an excellent guide for anyone with a disability facing this question. It takes the reader through the pros and cons of disclosing what may be an invisible disability at various time points (application, interview, performance evaluation, etc.) and what your employer can and cannot ask. Also available in Spanish and Vietnamese.

Employers/Hiring managers

Reasonable accommodations in the workplace – a factsheet from the ADA National Network providing a general, baseline understanding of accommodations, essential functions, who qualifies for accommodations, and the process of requesting and implementing an accommodation.

Small Business at Work Toolkit – an extensive, research-based toolkit from the Northeast ADA Regional Center. This toolkit provides curated information and essential resources about how (and why!) small businesses can successfully hire and retain employees with disabilities. You’ll find easy-to-understand, practical advice, along with expert guidance on following Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ADA Title I: Employment Requirements course from the New England ADA Regional Center -This free, on-demand course takes about 2.5 hours and is good for continuing education credits from the HR Certification Institute and the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.

Next Steps to Learn More

The ADA National Network has ten regional centers serving people with disabilities, employers, government entities, and others in matters related to the ADA and other disability rights laws. To connect to the center serving your area, find the center online or call 800/959-4ADA (4232). The ADA National Network has a large collection of publications, webinars, and on-demand courses on all titles of the ADA.

The Job Accommodation Network assists employees and employers in identifying and implementing appropriate accommodations. Specialists are available by chat, email, and phone. Visit their website for the “A to Z of Disabilities and Accommodations” – articles, videos, and more including the JAN Workplace Accommodation Toolkit: Building Your Inclusive Workplace.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) manages a number of efforts designed to advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities, including the Job Accommodation Network. Other ODEP resources available to employers and employees include: the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) on Disability Inclusion, the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology, and the National Center on Leadership for the Employment and Economic Advancement of People with Disabilities. ODEP also organizes and leads National Disability Employment Awareness Month every October.

The EEOC, which is tasked with enforcing Title I, processes charges of discrimination against employers. Learn more about the charging process and where and how to file.

Want to Dig Deeper?

NIDILRR continues to fund research and development on the impact of the ADA on the lives of people with disabilities. In addition to providing technical assistance, each of the ADA National Network Regional Centers conducts or participates in research on important topics related to the law. Learn about current and completed projects from these centers. Last week we explored research on accessibility, equity, and inclusion with articles from our Research In Focus series and targeted searches of our REHABDATA database of research literature.

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