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Disabilities Discrimination

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Approximately 54 million non-institutionalized Americans have physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities (Hernandez, 2000). . The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination based upon their disability (Bennett-Alexander, 2001). The protection extends to discrimination in a broad range of activities, including public services, public accommodations and employment. The ADA's ban against disability discrimination applies to both private and public employers in the United States.

Not all individuals with disabilities are protected by the ADA. To be protected, individuals with disabilities must show that they are otherwise qualified for the job they want. They have to prove that they can perform the essential functions of that job with or without reasonable modifications, and they must have a disability that significantly limits them and show that they have suffered discrimination because of the disability.

The ADA prohibits employer discrimination against qualified individuals with a disability in regard to application procedures, hiring and firing, promotions, pay, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment (Hernandez, 2001). This applies to the entire range of employer-employee relationships, including testing, work assignments, discipline, leave, benefits, and lay-offs. In addition, the ADA prohibits retaliation against individuals who seek the protection of the act, or in any way help those who do.

There are several examples of workplace discrimination, such as:

1. Limiting, segregating, or classifying disabled job applicants or employees in a way that denies them employment opportunities because of their disability.

2. Using the services of organizations, such as employment agencies, referral services, labor unions, or healthcare providers, which discriminate against the disabled.

3. Using standards that discriminate on the basis of disability or enable discrimination.

4. Denying employment or job benefits to individuals because they have a relationship with someone who is disabled.

5. Not making a reasonable accommodation for the disabilities of employees or denying employment opportunities to them because of the duty to accommodate their disabilities.

6. Using qualification standards, employment tests, or selection criteria that screen out or the disabled unless they are job related.

7. Using employment tests that measure applicants' disabilities, instead of their ability to do the job.

This is not a complete list of the types of discrimination found in the workplace, there are other forms of workplace discrimination prohibited by the ADA. However, one form of workplace discrimination; the failure to reasonably accommodate the disabilities of applicants and employees, applies to all stages of the employment process. An accommodation is any change in the workplace environment or in the way things are done in the workplace that gives individuals with disabilities equal employment



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