The American Disabilities Act (and the Workplace)


For the month of July we will be discussing disability inclusion in the workplace, but to kick off the conversation it’s necessary to explain the American Disabilities Act and the role it places in any company structure. From there employers can better understand the responsibilities they have in protecting disabled employees and how disability diversity initiatives can strengthen company culture.


What is the American Disabilities Act?


Simply put, the ADA is a civil rights law that protects employees against discrimination based on their disability. Under this law a person is considered to have a disability if they are significantly mentally or physically impaired from participating in a major life activity (for example, a walking impairment or a learning impairment).


Who must comply with the ADA?


  1. Private employers, including employment organizations
  2. Government agencies
  3. Labor groups

In other words, pretty much all employers. The Act’s scope has increased several times in recent decades (all employers with 25+ employees in 1992 and then all employers with 15+ employees in 1994) AND it’s important to remember that in California it is further expanded by FEHA (the Fair Employment and Housing Act) which requires employers with 5+ employees to comply and broadens the definition of a disability.


How are employers required to comply?


The following areas are protected from discrimination under the ADA:

  1. Hiring and firing
  2. Pay rates
  3. Promotion consideration and task allocations, including skill training
  4. Benefits and leaves
  5. All matters of employment activities

It’s a comprehensive act and just as important to comply with as with all other federal and state anti-discrimination policies.


In the weeks to come we’ll discuss in detail inclusive hiring practices, the accommodations employers are required to make for their staff, and how to implement an effective inclusion for all employees. But if you’re looking to get started right away on ensuring that your business is in compliance with the ADA,  Eos HR can help! We make sure small business employers have the resources they need to lead a productive and inclusive workplace. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.