Since its passage in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) has had a profound impact on employers’ treatment of employees with physical and mental impairments. Issues such as whether an employee is “disabled” within the meaning of the statute, whether the employee is a “qualified individual with a disability,” and whether the employee can perform the “essential functions” of the job are now dealt with by employers on almost a daily basis.
A unique aspect of the ADA is that it requires “reasonable accommodation” of an employee’s disability, provided that the accommodation does not subject the employer to “undue hardship.” The ADA gives many examples of reasonable accommodation, including leaves of absence. Employers are required to engage in what the courts have termed an “interactive process” with the employee to determine whether reasonable accommodation is possible and, if so, the method of accommodation.
Attorneys in Taft’s Labor and Employment Department counsel employers daily on issues arising under the ADA and related state laws. They also have defended numerous administrative charges and lawsuits alleging discrimination or failure to accommodate under the ADA. This experience enables them to help employers identify and solve the various issues that arise under this often complicated statute.