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Hiring protections extended by the ADA

Although economic reports may indicate that the U.S. economy is on the upswing, many Americans have yet to see an increase in their bank accounts. Companies may be hiring; however, in competing with many applicants, job seekers may struggle to move past the first round in the interview process. It can be frustrating to submit resumes and complete online applications without even receiving acknowledgement of the job application submission.

In competing with others for employment, those with disabilities may feel this conflict acutely, concerned that their disabilities may bar them from receiving job offers for positions that they are qualified to fill. As a result of legislation passed in 1990, such discrimination on the basis of disability is illegal. In passing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its subsequent amendment in 2008, the U.S. government mandated that the disabled have equal opportunities to access public transportation, employment and public accommodations and telecommunication.

While most Americans recognize the influence of the ADA's impact on the allotment of parking spots for the disabled, the accessibility provided in public transportation and public bathrooms, the ADA's reach extends to the hiring and retention of employees with disabilities.

If you are applying for a job, you should know the protections extended to the disabled during the hiring and post-hiring process.

1. Qualifications of those protected by the ADA

Those seeking to protection under the ADA must have a physical or mental disability that limits one or more "life activities." According to legislation, this phrase refers to the ability of the individual to the ability to walk, communicate, sit, read, see, or care for oneself, among other activities. Additionally, it must documented or well-known that the individual has a disability.

2. Protections extended during application process

In applying for a position, the applicant must meet the job requirements posted regarding educational background, required skill set and experience, and licensing. This person must be able to complete essential tasks demanded by the position with or without accommodation. Those applying should not be barred from receiving a job offer because they may not be able to complete tasks that are not essential to the position.

According to the ADA, those posting job openings may ask job applicants to "self-identify" a disability if the employer meets requirements according to section 503 of the affirmative action requirements. Employers posting pre-employment questions about disabilities may be required by law so that those hired will have the special services they need. In many cases, identifying one's disability is voluntary and is not tied to a condition of employment.

While certain employers may ask applicants to self-identify, they may not ask certain applicants to undergo a medical exam before providing a job offer or demand that the applicant pass a medical exam in order to receive a job. Employers who require all applicants to pass medical exams may extend the same request to applicants with disabilities.

As the ADA legislation passed many years ago, employers have been given ample time to address the guidelines of the law. Those who feel the ADA requirements were not met during the hiring process should meet with a knowledgeable employment attorney to determine the appropriate course of action to take. The government has extended protections to Americans with disabilities that employers must respect.

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