Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

Introduced in 1990, the ADA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The law defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA applies to a broad range of public and private services, including employment, housing, education, communication, and transportation.

Within HR, the ADA is relevant to the whole employment cycle, including recruitment, career advancement, and termination. The law states that you cannot refuse to hire someone because of their disability if that person can do the job with or without ‘reasonable accommodation.’

Reasonable accommodation refers to employers making changes or adjustments to the job or work environment so that disabled employees can do their work. Examples of the sorts of things you could do include the following:


  • Providing or modifying equipment, tools, or devices
  • Modified or part-time work hours and schedules
  • Restructuring the job
  • Adjusting training materials or policies
  • Providing readers and interpreters
  • Making the workplace accessible and usable by people with disabilities

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