Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act

Introduction: The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act prohibit discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability in application procedures, hiring, compensation, training, advancement and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. This law also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. It is the University’s policy to fully comply with the requirements of those acts.


“Disability” means a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.

“Qualified individual with a disability” is an individual with a disability who satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the position such an individual holds or desires and who, with or without a reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of such position.

“Mental Impairment” is any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness and specific learning disabilities. “Physical Impairment” is any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the body systems. Impairments do not include sexual behavior disorders and substance disorders resulting from CURRENT illegal drug use or alcohol abuse.

“Major Life Activities” are functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. The duration or expected duration of the impairment and the actual or expected permanent or long-term impact of the impairment are factors that should be considered when evaluating whether impairment substantially limits a major life activity.

“Substantially limits” means unable to perform a major life activity that the average person in the general population can perform, or significantly restricted as to the condition, manner, or duration under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity as compared to the condition, manner, or duration under which the average person in the general population can perform that same major life activity.

“Essential functions” refers to the fundamental job duties of the position the individual with a disability holds or desires. The term does not include the marginal functions of the position. A job function may be considered essential for any of several reasons, including but not limited to the following: (i) the function may be essential because the reason the position exists is to perform that function; (ii) the function may be essential because of the limited number of employees available among whom the performance of that job function can be distributed; and/or (iii) the function may be highly specialized so that the incumbent in the position is hired for his or her expertise or ability to perform the particular function.

Individual Qualifications – The Acts protect individuals who, with or without reasonable accommodations, can perform the essential functions of the job. Qualification standards include personal and professional requirements such as education, experience and training. The essential functions are the fundamental duties of the job, which in some instances will include physical ability (e.g. police, facilities). Written job descriptions should be current and thoroughly outline essential functions and qualifications, and should be referenced before determining whether a disabled individual is qualified for a particular job.

Pre-employment Inquiries –The Acts prohibit employers from asking questions of applicants that elicit information about a person’s disability. The following are examples of prohibited questions:

  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • Have you ever been treated for any particular condition or disease
  • Have you ever applied for Workers’ Compensation benefits?

It is permissible to ask all applicants whether they require accommodations in order to apply for jobs or participate in the interview process.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse – The Acts do not protect an employee or applicant who is currently engaged in the illegal use of drugs or abuse of alcohol. However, they do protect those who have successfully completed a rehabilitation program or are currently participating in a program and no longer use drugs or alcohol.

Relationship to Disabled Person – The Acts prohibit employers from denying a job or benefits to a qualified person because of the person’s relationship or association with a disabled individual. It is also a violation of the Acts for an employer to hire an applicant whose dependent is disabled only on the condition that the applicant waives health insurance coverage for the dependent.

Reasonable Accommodation – The Acts require employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. An employer is not required to provide an accommodation that would impose an undue hardship on the employer but “undue hardship” is not easily defined. Managers should consult with Human Resources if they believe they have an “undue hardship” situation. An employer is also not required to employ a person who is, even with reasonable accommodations, not qualified for the job.

Depending on the circumstances, reasonable accommodation may include but is not limited to the following: (i) making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, and (ii) job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; reassignment to a vacant position; acquisition or modifications of equipment or devices; appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials, or policies; the provision of qualified readers or interpreters; and other similar accommodations for individuals with disability.

To determine the appropriate reasonable accommodation, the University should engage in an informal, interactive process with the qualified individual with a disability in need of the accommodation. This process should identify the precise limitations resulting from the disability and potential reasonable accommodations that could overcome those limitations.To request a reasonable accommodation, see ADA Accommodation Process at

Medical Information – Any information obtained pertaining to the health factors or medical condition prior to employment or after will be kept in a separate file.