Nearly 30 years have passed since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law in July 1990. The ADA has made it possible for millions of Americans living with a disability to perform their jobs and support themselves and their families. If you are a private employer with more than 15 employees, you have a legal responsibility to your employees and your customers to maintain an ADA compliant facility. Failure to comply with the law can have serious repercussions. However, many HR managers and business owners are confused about what exactly needs to be done to maintain compliance. You should regularly assess whether your business is in compliance, or whether there are adjustments you need to make.
Compliance With Title I
Title I applies to employers that have 15 or more employees on duty during the workday for 20 or more weeks per year. It prohibits you from discriminating against an employee due to a current or previous disability. This provision also requires you to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities so that they can perform their job.
A reasonable accommodation is a broad term that includes making sure facilities and workspaces are accessible to your workers. It involves adjusting work schedules and offering unpaid leave so that employees can receive medical treatment for a disability, modifying training materials and exams so that they can be taken orally, via Braille, etc. As an employer, you have the right to negotiate many of the accommodations an employee can request. The ADA does not require you to provide accommodations that would cause undue hardship or create an unreasonable financial burden for your business.
Your first step when negotiating accommodations is to determine the essential functions of the employee’s job. What physical and mental abilities are required to perform the job? What tools and resources does the employee utilize to perform their job? What are the potential solutions you can offer?
You will want to negotiate all employee requests for accommodations in good-faith and keep the process as interactive as possible. Your primary goal is to create a situation where your employees can do their job efficiently and effectively. Remember, you both have a vested interest in finding viable solutions, and you will want to consider all possible options and document your efforts. Should the negotiations fail to find a workable solution, the records of your attempt can be used to protect you should the individual choose to file a complaint or pursue a discrimination lawsuit.
The ADA checklist for facilities is close to 90 pages long. It covers everything from parking lots to public restrooms. There are provisions for the height of service counters, the width of handrails, and the types of faucets you must install. It is a mistake to assume that your facility meets all of these requirements. In particular, you should not assume that your facility is “grandfathered” because it is an older structure. Similarly, you should not assume that the architects or builders of a new building didn’t miss something.
It is strongly recommended that you go through the applicable standards and verify that your facility is compliant. Document your findings and record the corrective actions you implement. Finally, make sure that you stay abreast of any changes to state or federal regulations that apply to your facilities.
We encourage you to contact Greenlink Payroll at (480) 385-2525 for more information about ADA compliance. Our HR professionals can help you assess your compliance with disability law and take steps to protect your business from complaints, government-issued fines, personal injury claims, and discrimination lawsuits.