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Americans With Disabilities Act

March 2004

Americans With Disabilities Act


Builds on protections of Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Civil Rights Act of 1964

Definition of a Disability

A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life systems or life activities.

Operative Language

"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 an employee, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment."

Who Is Covered

Qualified Individual With a Disability

One who, with or without a reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job.

How Essential Functions Are Defined

Reasonable Accommodations

Undue Hardship

Significant difficulty or expense beyond the employer's reasonable means.

Functional Limitations

Example: the employee is not able to lift more than ten pounds. Limitation does not state the underlying diagnosis (hernia? HIV?), but does clearly state to the employer the functional limitations on the person's activities because of the disability.


Whether or not the employee has disclosed, an employee's medical information remains confidential in the workplace. If co-workers are asked to take on tasks as part of a disabled employee's reasonable accommodation, they cannot be told the diagnosis. They can be told that the changes in assignment result from the reasonable accommodation of a co-worker's disability.

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