What should Louisianans know about reasonable accommodations?

The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted by Congress to protect employees in Louisiana and across the nation from being discriminated against because of any disabilities that they may have that do not hinder them from performing a job just as capably as someone without the same disability.

In the hiring process, the ADA does not limit an employer from hiring the most capable person of performing a job, but it does impose limits on what an employer may ask an applicant during the hiring process with respect to a given vacant position. It also legally requires the employer to accommodate any needs that they might have so long as the accommodation is reasonable.

The distinction is nuanced but important. Employers are not required or compelled in any way by the ADA to hire disabled employees over an employee who is more qualified. Qualified here is defined as someone who is able of performing all the necessary job duties that the job entails either with or without accommodation.

For an employer to stay within the bounds of the ADA, they cannot discriminate against an employee who suffers from an impairment that significantly limits a major life activity. It does not matter if that impairment is physical or mental in nature. The same applies if the employee has had a history of suffering from an impairment. The history of said impairment cannot be used against the employee regardless of whether they currently still suffer the impairment.

Similarly, an employer cannot act on a belief that an employee suffers from a certain physical or mental impairment that significantly hinders a major life activity. It should also be noted that short-term disabilities like a pregnancy or a bone fracture do not constitute an impairment that falls within the purview of the ADA. Impairments that are covered under the ADA must be long-term disabilities.

Source: FindLaw, "Reasonable Accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act," Accessed March 16, 2015

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