Employer Responsibilities Under the ADA
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against a qualified person simply because they have a disability. Many employers are confused as to their responsibilities under this federal law. At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Miami employment law attorneys have helped many South Florida employers ensure legal compliance. Here, we offer a brief guide that explains some of the most important things that Florida employers need to know about the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Which Companies are Covered By the ADA?
The ADA applies to all American employers that have 15 or more total employees.
What Employment Activities are Covered By the ADA?
The ADA forbids discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of disability in any employment activity. Specifically, this includes:
- Recruitment and hiring;
- Salary, benefits, and raises;
- Promotions and job assignments; and
- Firing and layoffs.
In addition, like many other federal anti-discrimination laws, the ADA prohibits employers from retaliating against workers simply because the worker exercised their rights under the ADA. Employers cannot punish an employee for bringing an ADA claim.
What is an Essential Function of a Job?
The ADA does not restrict an employer’s ability to hire the most qualified applicant for a position. In order to qualify for protection under the ADA, an employee must be able to perform all ‘essential functions’ of the position that they have or that they want. If a disability prevents an employee from performing an essential job-related function, then they are not qualified for that position. The employer has no obligation to hire such an employee. Of course, there can sometimes be disputes over what actually constitutes the ‘essential function’ of a position. In assessing essential functions, the EEOC will consider many different factors, including:
- Whether or not the position exists primarily to perform that function;
- The number of other employees who can perform the function;
- Actual work experience of past and present employees;
- How much time is needed to perform the function; and
- The consequences of the company if the employee was unable to perform the function.
What is a Reasonable Accommodation?
Employers that are covered by the ADA also have a duty to offer ‘reasonable accommodations’ to disabled workers. A reasonable accommodation is a change or adjustment that the employer could make that would:
- Make it easier for the disabled worker to perform their job; and
- Not cause an undue hardship to the business.
In practice, reasonable accommodations can come in a wide variety of different forms. In some cases, it could be as simple as a minor scheduling change. In other cases, it could be something much more intensive. Ultimately, employers should make proactive efforts to accommodate disabled workers. Though, if the proposed accommodation would place an undue hardship on the company, then it is not required by law.
Contact Our Florida Employment Law Attorneys Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our South Florida employment law lawyers have extensive experience representing employers. If you have any questions or concerns about ADA compliance, we are here to help. To arrange a free legal consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us today at our primary office in West Palm Beach (561-291-8298) or our satellite office in Miami (305-985-5281).