You are protected under Title I of the ADA if you are a person with a disability, as defined under the ADA, and are qualified to do the job with or without a reasonable accommodation. To be clear, under the ADA, you are considered a person with a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, have a history of a disability, or is regarded as having a disability by the employer. You also are protected under the ADA if you are discriminated against due to your association with a person with a disability.
Major life activities include, but are not limited to; hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for yourself, bending, communicating, and reading. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 also added major bodily functions such as; functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
You also need to be qualified to do the essential functions of the job, meaning you must have the skills, education, credentials, and ability to do the job with or without a reasonable accommodation. A reasonable accommodation is simply any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that allows you to apply for the job, interview for the job, perform the essential functions of the job, and enjoy the benefits and privileges of the job. Some examples of reasonable accommodation are; providing or modifying equipment, modified work schedules, physical accessibility to the workspace, interpreters, readers, and modifications to company policies.
To promote an inclusive workplace, we have created a employers’ guide to reasonable accommodations and using assistive technologies for employers with disabilities: Assistive Technologies Resource Guide (PDF)
Do I have to disclose my disability at the job interview?
No, the only reason you would need to disclose your disability at the interview is if you need a reasonable accommodation for the interview process. In fact, the only reason you would need to disclose your disability during the interview or during employment is if you are requesting a reasonable accommodation, or to explain some unusual circumstance like side effects of a new medication.
When disclosing, do I need to tell my supervisor what disability I have?
No, you only need to disclose the impairments that are substantially limited. For example, you would not need to disclose that you have multiple sclerosis in order to request a parking spot closer to the front entrance, but rather, you could state that you have a disability that impairs your gait when walking long distances and would like to request a closer parking spot.
Can my employer share information about my disability and my reasonable accommodations at work to others?
No, you employer must keep this information confidential and only share this information with those who need to know in order to provide the accommodation. All written documentation must also remain confidential and inaccessible to co-workers.
Do I need to pay for my own reasonable accommodation?
No, in most circumstances it is the employers’ responsibility to provide and pay for the accommodation. In the case that the reasonable accommodation causes an undue hardship for the employer, then the employer must give you the option of providing the accommodation or paying for a portion of the accommodation. The employer must be able to prove that the accommodation is indeed an undue hardship.
Can my employer ask for a list of my medications?
No, it is out of compliance of the ADA to ask about your medications and to ask any of the following:
- Do you have a heart condition?
- Do you have a disability which would interfere with your ability to perform the job?
- How many days were you sick last year?
- Have you ever filed for workers’ compensation?
- Have you ever been injured on the job?
- Have you ever been treated for mental health problems?
- What prescription drugs are you currently taking?
Can the employer ask me to demonstrate that I can do the essential functions of the job?
Yes, an employer can ask you to demonstrate your ability to do essential job functions. It is a good idea, if possible, to bring with you any assistive technology you may need as a reasonable accommodation such as a laptop with screen reader software or a magnified or large screen to demonstrate.
Can my employer take away my reasonable accommodations as a disciplinary action?
No, your employer must separate any disciplinary actions and ADA reasonable accommodation. Your employer can review your accommodations periodically to ensure they are beneficial and modify them as needed.
Do I need to request my reasonable accommodations during the interview and/or on the first day on the job?
No, you can request a reasonable accommodation at any point it is needed to do the essential job duties. Also, your disability may be intermittent, and you may only need to use the accommodation when you impairments have exacerbated.
Can an employer not hire me because I have a family member with a disability?
No, you are also covered under the ADA if you are discriminated against by your relationship with a person with a known disability.
Who can help me figure out what accommodations would be beneficial?
The best resource to begin with is with the Job Accommodation Network at www.askjan.org