The rules issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) expand the protection granted employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These rules were authorized by the ADA Amendments (ADAA) and were passed by Congress in 2008. The results are a significant expansion of the number of individuals claiming ADA protection.
Americans with disabilities are a large and economically disadvantaged group. The goals of ADA mandates are similar to civil rights. One goal is to make sure people with disabilities have access to employment. In the past, employers traditionally shut out disabled people from employment. A second goal is to increase job opportunities for disabled. As a group, people with disabilities earn less than people without disabilities. Employers that will be affected. Employers that employ 15 or more employees who work for at least twenty calendar weeks within a year. The EEOC points out that tracking this can become rather complicated and recommends staying in close communication to ensure compliance. Broad is the protection. The ADAA has expanded the definition of “disability”. As a result, employees will have a much easier time when seeking the law’s protection.
Do I fall under this broad coverage? According to the EEOC, an individual with a disability is a person who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
- Has a record of such an impairment; or
- Is regarded as having such an impairment.
The key is how limited you are in performing your major life activities. For example, doctors may have diagnosed you as being clinically depressed. However, you may not be qualified for coverage because you are not substantially limited in performing major life activities.
What are my rights?If you are covered under the ADA, your employer must make “reasonable accommodations” as long it does not cause the employer “undue hardship”. Undue hardship for the employer means it would cause significant difficulty or expense. Reasonable accommodation can take many forms, but some common examples are included here:
- Part time and job sharing
- Flexible schedules
- Time off for doctor’s appointments, support groups and therapy
- Flexible break time to meet individual needs
- Additional leave time
Filing a Charge. If you think an employer has discriminated against you because of your disability, you may file at the nearest EEOC office or find an experienced employment attorney. If you have no office in your area, it can usually be over the phone.