Americans with Disabilities Act
Frequently Asked Questions & COVID-19 Specific Requirements
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. In accordance with the ADA, an employer must make what is termed “reasonable accommodation” for the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified individual with a disability unless it can show that the accommodation would cause an undue hardship to its operation.
Click here for additional information from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Click the dropdown menus for more pertinent ADA information.
What are the ‘essential functions’ of a position?
Essential functions are those job duties that are so fundamental to the position that the individual holds that she or he cannot do the job without performing them. A function can be "essential" if, among other things:
- The position exists specifically to perform that function
- There are a limited number of other employees who could perform the function
- The function is specialized and the individual is hired based on his or her ability to perform it
- Determination of the essential functions of a position must be done on a case-by-case basis so that it reflects the job as actually performed, and not simply the components of a generic position description.
Who is considered a ‘Qualified Individual with a Disability’?
For the purposes of providing a reasonable accommodation, a person is a “qualified individual with a disability,” when he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, and is not able to perform the essential functions of his/her job with or without reasonable accommodation.
What is a ‘reasonable accommodation’?
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things usually are done that enables an individual with a disability to work. The ADA enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a job.
Examples of reasonable accommodations include making facilities more accessible; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; modifying work stations; and reassignment to a vacant position. Reassignment to a vacant position will be considered only when an accommodation is not possible in an employee’s present job or when an accommodation in the employee’s present job would cause an undue hardship.
Additional information regarding undue hardship can be found here. Examples of undue hardships are the district hiring two people for the same position, displacing a fellow employee to help with another employee's workload, or removing an employee's essential job functions.
Can a leave of absence be a form of reasonable accommodation?
A leave of absence also may constitute a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, even though a leave means that the employee is not working. Leave qualifies as a reasonable accommodation when it enables an employee to return to work following the period of leave.
Additional information regarding ADA Leaves can be found here.
Can I request to work remotely due to my health condition making me at heightened risk for COVID-19?
Any employee is eligible to make a request for reasonable accommodation if he/she believes he/she is eligible.
In considering the request, the employer needs to determine if the employee would be able to perform the essential functions of his/her position by providing that specific accommodation, and also needs to engage in an interactive dialogue with the employee to discuss other possible accommodation options that would enable the employee to fulfill the essential duties of his/her position.
Can I work remotely to avoid exposing a family member who is at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition?
No. Although the ADA prohibits discrimination based on association with an individual with a disability, that protection is limited to disparate treatment or harassment. The ADA does not require that an employer accommodate an employee without a disability based on the disability-related needs of a family member or other person with whom she is associated.
For example, an employee without a disability is not entitled under the ADA to telework as an accommodation in order to protect a family member with a disability from potential COVID-19 exposure.
Please visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for additional information.
What if the essential duties of my position cannot be performed remotely (when school is operating in-person)?
If the essential duties of your assignment cannot be performed remote, alternative forms of accommodation will need to be explored, including additional personal protective equipment, modification of work area or a leave of absence.
What are the steps for submitting a workplace accommodation request?
Step 1: Fill out an Accommodation Request Form.
Step 2: Human Resources Director will initiate the “Interactive Process,” which includes the following:
- Analyze the particular job involved and determine its purpose and essential duties;
- Consult with the employee to ascertain the precise job related limitations imposed by the individual's disability and how those limitations could be overcome with a reasonable accommodation;
- In consultation with the employee to be accommodated, and the employee’s Principal/Manager identify potential accommodations and assess the effectiveness each would have in enabling the employee to perform the essential functions of the position.