Gray Power: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and you

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2006

If your health condition meets the definition of disability in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), your employer must provide a reasonable job accommodation to you.

The ADA forbids discrimination in all employment practices. These include:

recruiting, advertising, hiring, job promotion, wages and fringe benefits, training and firing or layoffs.

The ADA covers private employers with 15 or more employees. Other covered employers are state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions.

The ADA covers you if you are qualified for the job you have, or the job you apply for, and you have a disability. The law is very specific in defining &8220;qualified&8221; and &8220;disability.&8221; It&8217;s best to check with the Job Accommodations Network (JAN) or another expert if you are not sure that you meet one of these definitions.

Basically, a qualified person: meets the skill, education and experience requirements of the job, and can perform the &8220;essential functions&8221; of the job, with or without reasonable job accommodation.

Reasonable accommodation is any change to the job or to the work environment that allows a person with a disability to apply for or do a job.

Under the ADA law, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities to a large extent. Seeing, walking, doing manual tasks and working are examples of life activities.

Dr. Marvin Copes is Education/Community Service Volunteer for AARP Alabama in Maylene. He can be reached by e-mail at