ADA and the Workplace

A Resource for Patients with an Eosinophilic Disorders

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits job discrimination against a qualified person with a disability.

To be protected under the ADA, you must “have, have a record of, or be regarded as having a substantial, as opposed to a minor, impairment.”

A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as eating, walking, or breathing to name a few. Conditions that affect the digestive, respiratory, or cardiovascular symptoms are some examples of conditions that might be considered disabilities under the ADA.

Not everyone with a medical condition is protected by the law. In order to be protected, a person must be qualified for the job and have a disability as defined by the law.
The ADA requires an employer with 15 or more employees to provide “reasonable accommodation” for individuals with disabilities, unless it would cause undue hardship.

A reasonable accommodation is a change in the work environment or in the way a job is performed that affords a person with a disability equal employment opportunities.

What are reasonable accommodations?
Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Physical – example: modifying the layout of a workspace
  • Accessible and assistive technologies – example: voice recognition software
  • Accessible communications – example: ASL interpreter at meetings and events
  • Policy enhancements – example: allowing service animals, adjusting work schedules to permit care of chronic medical conditions

An employer doesn’t have to provide an accommodation if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer. Undue hardship means that the accommodation would be too difficult or too expensive to provide, in light of the employer’s size, financial resources, and the needs of the business.

An employer may not refuse to provide an accommodation just because it involves some cost. An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee or job applicant wants. If more than one accommodation works, the employer may choose which one to provide.

Do I need to disclose my disability in a job interview?
If you are applying for a job, an employer cannot ask you if you are disabled or ask about the nature or severity of your disability.

An employer can ask if you can perform the duties of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. An employer can also ask you to describe or to demonstrate how, with or without reasonable accommodation, you will perform the duties of the job.

If you request accommodations, your employer may require medical documentation of your disability, your ability to perform the essential functions of your job and the requested accommodations. Your employer must keep your medical information confidential.

Resources, U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Equal Opportunity Employment Commission

APFED Social Security Disability Application Process