Untitled-1Here lately, inquiries about disabilities in the workplace and how to deal with them fill my inbox.

Googling the phrase “Americans with Disabilities Act” yields 22,400,000 responses. The ADA is a 26-year-old federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. The ADA also sets forth requirements for telecommunications relay services.

Who’s covered by the federal disability law? Employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities by Title I of the ADA. In general, the employment provisions of the ADA require:

• Equal opportunity in selecting, testing, and hiring qualified applicants with disabilities.

• Reasonable accommodation for applicants and workers with disabilities when such accommodations would not impose “undue hardship.”

• Equal opportunity in promotion and benefits.

Like the federal law, Tennessee law bans treating workers with disabilities differently from non-disabled workers, but applies to companies with eight or more employees (rather than 15). And, under Tennessee law, there’s no requirement for an employer to provide any accommodation.

A company’s potential liability for workplace disability discrimination begins upon a request for an application by a potential applicant, if not before. It arises when an applicant or an employee is treated less favorably because of a disability or is regarded as disabled, or even has a relationship with a disabled person.

Read more at the Knoxville News Sentinel