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McBurney Disability Resource Center

Disability Employment Law

An important aspect of career development for a college student with a disability is to consider the impact of one’s condition in employment and to begin to plan for a successful transition into the workplace. Just as laws exist to ensure non-discrimination and equal opportunity in education, laws exist to offer similar protections in employment. There are many resources that students can use to learn more about employment laws and disability.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) is a federal Civil Rights Law that protects those with disabilities by prohibiting discrimination in all aspects of the employment process. The information outlined below has been adapted from The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) website.

What does the ADA do?

The ADA prohibits discrimination at the employment level against a qualified individual with a disability. A qualified individual is one who satisfies the employer's requirements for the job, such as education, employment experience, skills or licenses. You must be able to perform the essential functions, or fundamental duties, of the job with or without reasonable accommodation

What employers are covered by the ADA?

All employers, including State and local government employers, with 15 or more employees after July 26, 1994 are covered by the ADA.

What employees are covered by the ADA?

  • An employee who has a disability. If an employee has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, he or she is protected.
  • An employee with a history of impairment. An employer can't discriminate against an employee based on his or her previous disability.
  • An employee who the employer regards as disabled. This is true even if the employer is wrong, and the employee is not actually disabled. If the employer discriminates against an employee based on its incorrect belief that the employee has a disability, the employee is protected by the ADA.

What are an employee’s rights under the ADA?

Under the ADA, an employee is allowed to disclose their disability at any point in the job search and hiring process. Through this disclosure, they are entitled to reasonable accommodations as long as the accommodations do not cause undue hardship, meaning they would require significant difficulty or expense. A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.

Employees are also protected from discrimination on the basis of their disability and have the opportunity to file a charge if they encounter this type of discrimination.

Other Pertinent Laws

The ADA is not the only law in place to protect individuals with disabilities in the workplace. In fact, there are four other federal laws that protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination in employment and the job application process:

  • Rehabilitation Act
  • Workforce Investment Act
  • Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act
  • The Civil Service Reform Act

For additional information on these acts, please visit the United States Department of Labor website regarding the Office of Disability Employment Policy's web page on Employment Laws: Disability and Discrimination.

Further Resources

For further information on disability law, we have compiled links to outside sources that can be accessed below.

File last updated: April 13, 2017. 09:08:43 am
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