No matter your type of business, chances are the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act applies to your building, employees, and visitors. While this is something that many corporations and businesses know about, it’s mostly something is focused on in the human resources area. Today, as a blogging platform, we wanted to shed some light on an issue that affects millions of people in the workplace, and those who have the opportunity to work or blog from the comfort of their own home.
But do you know if you’re in compliance? It’s worth taking a look at some facts and reviewing your company’s policies. Penalties for non-compliance include fines and lawsuits.
The ADA protects people with physical and mental disabilities in the workplace and through public accommodations.
Find out if your business has the information it needs to comply with Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act.
What is the ADA?
The original Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. It’s a civil rights law that doesn’t allow discrimination against anyone with physical or mental disabilities.
The law covers all areas of public life, including school, jobs, and transportation.
In 2008, the law was updated with the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act. The most significant changes included updates to the definition of “disability.”
What is a Disability?
There are three main areas to consider when making accommodations for a person with a disability.
Someone falls under the definition of “disability” if:
- He or she has a mental or physical impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities
- He or she has documentation of an impairment, or
- He or she has a known impairment
A person can have any or all of these qualifications as a person with disabilities. But there is no requirement that a person shows proof of having a disability for protection through the disability act.
Who Must Comply?
The short answer is that any public place or employer with fifteen or more employees must comply with the ADA.
The American Disabilities Act is in place to make sure anyone with a disability has the same opportunities and rights as anyone else.
But what does it look like to make sure the opportunities are available? The details and case-by-case scenarios can get tricky.
Let’s look at a few major points for compliance within the five Titles of the ADA laws.
Title I Employment
Employers must provide a reasonable accommodation that helps any employees with a disability perform their job duties. This Title also applies to schools and colleges.
- Handicap access for your building and facilities
- Providing a reader for a blind employer or student
- Adjusting a workspace to help an employee.
Note the word “reasonable” comes with making these accommodations. An employer is not required to provide anything that causes an undue hardship on the business or on other employees.
“Undue hardship” includes significant expense depending on the size and financial resources of your business. But an employer must provide an accommodation even if there is some expense that doesn’t qualify as “undue hardship”.
To get an accommodation, an employee must ask for help. They’ll need to tell the employer the nature of the disability and what they need.
Title II State and Local Government
The government must also accommodate people with disabilities.
At events or facilities, government agencies must provide methods of communication for people with hearing, vision, or speech disabilities.
Agencies also cannot discriminate anyone from programs or activities due to a disability.
Title III Public Accommodations
Some businesses fall under Title III as well as Title I.
If you run a hotel, transportation company, museum, bank, library, or other similar institution open to the public, you must comply with the ADA.
Restaurants and shops fall into this category, too. Reasonable accommodations for Title III places include ADA-compliant signage.
Knowing exactly what you need and where to place it can be difficult. But help is available to determine the types of signs and factors for compliance for your business.
Image360 provides a simple guide to understanding the requirements for your business signage. Everything from braille specifics to signage height and location is important.
Title IV Telecommunications
For compliance under Title IV, internet and communication companies must provide a way for people with hearing or vision impairment to communicate using their resources.
For your business, make sure any employees with vision or hearing disabilities have equipment for using computers and phones.
Title V Miscellaneous Provisions
This last category is the catch-all for any business or entity that doesn’t fit neatly into any other category.
This Title also allows for the recovery of attorney’s fees in the event of a lawsuit. And Title V also notes that drug or alcohol abuse is not a disability.
Discrimination or Harassment
ADA-compliance is only one part of the American Disabilities Act when it comes to Title I and businesses. People with disabilities are also protected from discrimination and harassment under the ADA.
- Firing an employee or refusing a promotion solely based on a person’s disability
- Assuming someone can’t perform job duties because of a disability
- Refusing to hire someone with a disability who is otherwise qualified for the position
Harassment includes making disparaging remarks about or to a person with a disability.
Be sure your employee handbook includes a detailed anti-harassment policy. This protects your business and your employees, and it helps comply with the ADA.
If an employee feels they are a victim of discrimination or harassment, their best course of action is filing a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
Since 2006, the ADA documents enforcement of violations for Titles I-V. The EEOC joins with other government agencies to investigate and enforce reports of discrimination in the workplace.
Protect Citizens Through The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act
The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act is in place to protect our citizens with disabilities.
Providing signage, accessibility, and other resources help make a business, school, or public area usable for everyone.
Don’t risk fines or punishment. Work to accommodate needs and create a positive office environment that your employees love.
Building a positive culture supports people with any ability or disability. Happy employees are the best employees.
Be a business that accommodates the best talent for each role, no matter their physical or mental abilities.