Employment rights and employers’ responsibilities
Job applicants and employees are protected under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title I requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified people with disabilities. Accommodations are any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables a person with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.
There are three categories of reasonable accommodations:
- Modifications to the job application process
- Modifications to the work environment that enable an employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position
- Modifications that enable an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment
- Examples of reasonable accommodations include:
- Making existing workplaces accessible
- Job restructuring
- Part-time or modified work schedules
- Acquiring or modifying equipment
- Changing tests, training materials or policies
- Providing qualified readers or interpreters
- Reassignment to a vacant position
Employers may not ask disability-related questions or require medical exams
An employer may not ask or require a job applicant to take a medical examination before making a job offer. An employer may, however, ask questions about the ability to perform specific job functions and may, with certain limitations, ask a person with a disability to describe or demonstrate how he or she would perform these functions.
An employer may condition a job offer on a post-offer medical exam or medical inquiry if this is required of all entering employees in the same job category. If a person is not hired because a post-offer medical exam or inquiry reveals a disability, the reason for not hiring must be job-related and consistent with business necessity.
After a person starts work, a medical examination or inquiry of an employee must be job-related and consistent with business necessity. Employers may conduct employee medical exams for these reasons:
- Where there is evidence of a job performance or safety problem
- Examinations are required by other federal laws
- Examinations determine fitness to perform a particular job
- Voluntary examinations that are part of employee health programs
Employment discrimination deadlines
Employees with disabilities cannot file directly in federal court. Instead, they must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the incident. If the case is not resolved by the EEOC, a “right to sue” letter is issued, and employees with disabilities must file in court within 90 days.
Most of Illinois is covered by the Chicago EEOC office. The St. Louis EEOC office covers the following Illinois counties: Alexander, Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, Greene, Jackson, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, Monroe, Perry, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Clair, Union and Washington.
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Last updated: April 10, 2014