Americans With Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by Congress in 1990 to ensure that people with disabilities are treated equitably. ADA contains numerous provisions designed to protect all people with disabilities, including those with a chronic illness such as MS. The most important employment provisions include the following:

• If you are qualified for a particular position, you cannot be discriminated against in any way because of a disability. If, for example, you apply for a posi tion for which you are qualified, an employer cannot ask any questions related to your disability. Also, if you are employed and your work performance has been satisfactory, your employer cannot take any action—such as a change in job duties—that discriminates against you because of your disability.

• If you are a qualified individual with a disability, your employer has a responsibility to ensure that you have full and equal access to all aspects of the employment situation, including training opportunities, promotions, compensation, and other privileges of employment.

• Employers must make reasonable accommodations for known physical or mental limitations of qualified applicants or employees with a disability, unless the employer can show that the accommodation would cause an undue hardship on the operation of the business. Therefore, if you are having difficulties with some part of your job because of your disability, you may request a reasonable accommodation that will enable you to perform the task, and your employer is required to consider your request and provide it unless it creates an undue hardship on the employer.

• Employers cannot make medical inquiries or require medical examinations, either of applicants prior to a job offer or of employees, unless there is evidence of a job performance or safety issue.

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been valuable in helping people with disabilities secure and maintain employment. Become familiar with the provisions of this law so that you can understand and exercise your rights. You may need to contact a disability rights attorney for assistance. See Appendix A for resources.

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