Most businesses know that employees are protected from various types of discrimination. However, they may not have a full understanding of just how employees are protected under certain parts of business law. One area that gives many business owners pause is disability discrimination. Here is an overview of how the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to companies here in Michigan and around the nation.
What the law says
The ADA has a fairly broad definition of disability, but generally disabled people have an impairment, either cognitive or physical, that impacts their ability to complete basic tasks in life. A company must make “reasonable accommodations” so that disabled workers can do their jobs. Those accommodations also have a wide range of possibilities, such as altering the work site so employees can do their jobs or making allowances to shift scheduling to incorporate an employee’s disability. The bottom line is that the accommodation lets a disabled employee operate as similarly to an able employee as possible. It not only applies to someone already employed, but covers that person during hiring, training and other parts of a person’s work trajectory.
When the law does not apply
There are instances where a company may not be compelled to make reasonable accommodations as outlined in the ADA. Mainly, if an accommodation would unfairly burden a business or cause “undue hardship” the law does not apply. Often, this means that a company would incur costs too great for it to afford, or that there is a necessary function of the job that a disabled employee simply cannot complete. However, this is often a point of contention between employees and companies.
If a business owner here in Michigan is uncertain of how the ADA may apply to a business, an attorney is likely the best resource for answers. A lawyer who has experience in handling various aspects of business law can help a company ensure that it is ADA compliant and advise about complaints. This way business owners can focus on the business, secure in the knowledge that they are in compliance with the law.