Are there any State or Federal agencies that proactively enforce the ADA?

While multiple Federal agencies are tasked with enforcing parts of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), they rely on individuals to file complaints to start the process. The ADA is a complaint-driven law. Title I (employment provisions of the ADA) are covered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Department of Justice enforces Title II (state and local government) and Title III (places of public accommodation). Other federal agencies with enforcement responsibilities include the Department of Transportation and the Federal Communications Commission. At a State level you will find agencies such as NY State Division of Human Rights or the NJ Division on Civil Rights that enforce state nondiscrimination laws.

 

If you have more questions about this or need to know more about something else under the ADA, please contact the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232, by email at northeastada@cornell.edu, or by submitting a question through our website.

I’m a small business owner. I’ve been thinking about hiring people with disabilities to help me fill some of my chronically open positions, but I’m worried about cost of providing accommodations.

Several studies have shown that an ADA accommodation is often an investment rather than a cost. Fifty-eight percent of accommodations cost nothing at all. Of those that have a cost, the median amount was $500. Also, employees who were accommodated had better performance ratings, were less likely to leave the job, and had fewer absences. Accommodations have a good return-on-investment. It nearly always costs far more to lose an employee than to accommodate them.

 

If you want to learn more, visit the Small Business at Work Toolkit or call us at 800-949.4232.

 

If you have more questions about this or need to know more about something else under the ADA, please contact the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232, by email at northeastada@cornell.edu, or by submitting a question through our website.

 

Is an assigned accessible parking space a type of reasonable accommodation?

Generally, yes. Where an employer provides employee parking, they also need to provide accessible parking to employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause an undue hardship. While an employer may limit employee access to accessible spaces reserved for customers, they still must consider creating a reserved and accessible space for an employee with disability related needs.

 

If you have more questions about this or need to know more about something else under the ADA, please contact the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232, by email at northeastada@cornell.edu, or by submitting a question through our website.

 

Can telecommuting be a type of reasonable accommodation for work?

Yes and no. If an employee needs to be on-site to meet the essential functions of the job, such as a machinist or a cashier, then telecommuting would not meet the reasonable standard. If during the interactive dialogue process it is discovered that the employee has minimal need for in-person interaction and can meet the essential job requirements with the use of tools like a computer and phone, than yes, this could be seen as a form of reasonable accommodation. As with any reasonable accommodation request from an employer, you must also still consider if the accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the employer in terms of its nature, operation, resources, and circumstance.

 

If you have more questions about this or need to know more about something else under the ADA, please contact the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232, by email at northeastada@cornell.edu, or by submitting a question through our website.

Can a job coach be a type of reasonable accommodation?

Yes. Job coaching can benefit employees with different types of disabilities and work related needs. For example, a job coach can assist an employee to learn job duties, to create strategies for organizing and completing tasks, and to acclimate to the workplace. Individuals who need job coaching may qualify for this as a paid service from their state vocational rehabilitation agency.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated that, “An employer may be required to allow a job coach paid by a public or private social service agency to accompany the employee at the job site as a reasonable accommodation.” For more, see the EEOC's Press Release: EEOC Sues Comfort Suites for Disability Discrimination.

If you have more questions about this or if you need to know more about something else under the ADA, please contact the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232, by email at northeastada@cornell.edu, or by submitting

Is my ADA Complaint with the Department of Justice anonymous?

The Department of Justice (DOJ) does require a complainant to file personal information when filing a complaint. If the DOJ does look to seek action, many times in the form of mediation, it would contact you and the entity you filed a complaint about to determine if both parties want to move forward to resolve the issue. Here is what the DOJ has to say on disclosure. The DOJ Disability Rights Section will not disclose your name or other identifying information about you unless it is necessary for enforcement activities against an entity alleged to have violated federal law, required to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, disclosure is permitted pursuant to the Privacy Act, or is otherwise required by law.

If you have more questions about this or if you need to know more about something else under the ADA, please contact the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232, by email at northeastada@cornell.edu, or by submitting a question through our website.

Can I ask for a new supervisor as a reasonable accommodation?

Probably not. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that an employer does not have to provide an employee with a new supervisor as a reasonable accommodation. In addition, multiple court decisions have concluded that an inability to get along with one’s supervisor “does not give rise” to a disability that is protected by the ADA.  Although an employer is not required to change supervisors, the employer may be required to provide other accommodations, such as a change in the supervisory method used. Employees with disabilities are protected from disability-based discrimination or harassment by a supervisor and others in the workplace. Employers may want to consider implementing management techniques that “set a tone” for a positive workplace culture, including developing procedures to evaluate the effectiveness of accommodations, educating  all employees on their right to accommodations, and providing sensitivity awareness  training to co-workers and supervisors.

 

If you have more questions about this or need to know more about something else under the ADA, please contact the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232, by email at northeastada@cornell.edu, or by submitting a question through our website.

Can my employer ask about my disability after they have made me a job offer?

Yes. Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offers this guidance. Once an employee is on the job, his/her actual performance is the best measure of ability to do the job. When a need arises to question the ability of an employee to do the essential functions of his/her job or to question whether the employee can do the job without posing a direct threat due to a medical condition, it may be job-related and consistent with business necessity for an employer to make disability-related inquiries or require a medical examination.

If you have more questions about this or if you need to know more about something else under the ADA, please contact the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232, by email at northeastada@cornell.edu, or by submitting a question through our website.

I am the only HR person in a small business, how do I help our managers understand the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Small business is a critical driver in our economy and a very attractive option for those who are looking for work. The people seeking jobs include people with disabilities. However, because small business has less support from human resource professionals, they have fewer supports to understand how best to include people with disabilities in the workforce. A recent study by the Northeast ADA Center at Cornell University found that small business need support to understand the cost of accommodation and how best to provide appropriate accommodations, how to talk about disability, and how to communicate company policies that support employees with disabilities. The Small Business at Work Toolkit was designed as a resource that breaks down key components of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into an easy to use resource for small businesses. With the toolkit, you can learn more about the benefits of a business that includes people with disabilities, understand what constitutes a disability, and break down some of the myths about disability that can make including people with disabilities in a small business difficult. The Toolkit also breaks down some of the requirements of the ADA into plain language that is much easier to understand. Share the link with business owners, managers, and employees so that they can understand how and why to include people with disabilities in your small business.

If you have more questions about this or if you need to know more about something else under the ADA, please contact the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232, by email at northeastada@cornell.edu, or by submitting a question through our website.

Do I have to apply to be covered by the ADA?

No, there is no application process to be covered under the ADA. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.

If you have more questions about this or if you need to know more about something else under the ADA, please contact the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232, by email at northeastada@cornell.edu, or by submitting a question through our website.

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