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How does the Americans with Disabilities Act protect me?

It can be difficult enough to live your life with a disability but imagine trying to find a job while having a disability. For some, their disability is easy enough to manage that it doesn't affect their ability to work. But for others, that is definitely not the case. The individual may need some sort of accommodations in order to perform the duties of his or her job. In these situations, it is understandable that some individuals may feel worried about asking for these accommodations for fear of being denied a job opportunity.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) exists to protect these individuals. The initial act became law back in 1990. An amendment to the act went into effect in 2008. This amendment broadened the definition of "disability." There was a need for this because various Supreme Court decisions had narrowed the definition and therefore limited the protections that were provided by the 1990 law.

Title 1 of the act prohibits discrimination in the workplace and in employment in general. Employers must provide those with disabilities reasonable accommodations. Title 1 applies to employment agencies, joint labor-management committees, labor organizations and any business that has more than 15 employees.

There are several ways that employees can provide modifications. They can make their facilities more accessible, make sure there is equal opportunity during the application process, modify work schedules or equipment, restructure jobs, and provide interpreters or readers.

Although a company cannot ask a current or potential employee if they have a disability, they can ask if the person can perform the "major functions" of the job, which allows the individual to ask for reasonable accommodations.

These issues are important to consider when you are applying for a job and have a disability. Our laws protect you during the process so that you can have equal opportunity to have success in the workforce.

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