by Amanda Pestana
WHAT IS THE ADA?
The Ada is a comprehensive statute that prohibits discrimination against an individual with a disability in employment, public services, public accommodations, state and local government, and telecommunications.
Five different areas are covered under the ADA:
Title I: requires an employer with 15 or more employees to treat qualified candidates with disabilities equally during all hiring stages. This includes and is not limited to, the following: compensation, benefits, training, promotion, onboarding, and other processes.
Title II: focuses on public entities that are prohibited from discriminating against an individual with disabilities, just like a state or local government agency. This encompasses the following: public transportation, recreational activities, courts, and town meetings. People with disabilities should be able to access ALL.
Title III: focuses on public accommodations and commercial facilities to provide equal access and treatment and removal of barriers for people with a disability. This includes restaurants, retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, private schools, convention centers, doctor's offices, homeless shelters, and recreational facilities. Any altered or newly constructed buildings should include standards to ensure accessibility for all. Also, it is essential for all licensing, certifications, classes, examinations, and all academic activities should be accessible to all people with a disability. If it is not available, an alternative must be offered.
Title IV: telecommunications companies MUST establish telecommunications services for ALL callers with hearing or speech disabilities.
Title V: notes that the ADA "does not invalidate or override any other federal, state, or local laws that provide equal or greater protections for people with disabilities."
FACTS AND FIGURES
These facts and figures were presented by the U.S. Census Bureau in July for the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. ( https://factfinder.census.gov )
There are approximately 57 million Americans with a disability. There are more people with disabilities in America than the entire population of Canada or the Caribbean. There are more people with vision impairments in America than the whole population of Switzerland. There are more Americans with hearing impairments than in all of Denmark, Paraguay, or Hong Kong. The number of Americans living with Alzheimer's or other neurocognitive disorders is half of the population of Ireland. If you consider Greece and its entire community, there are more Americans than Greece's entire population that need assistance to perform necessary activities.
JAN | JOB ACCOMMODATION NETWORK
Job Accommodation Network is a free source of expert one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations and periodic rest, food, or bathroom breaks. ( https://askjan.org/index.cfm )
They also provide resources for a person with a disability interested in starting a business:
Nearly 60% of accommodations needed by workers with disabilities cost NOTHING to the employer. Employers that did spend money, which were only 36% paid a one-time cost of $500.
Therefore, employers should be open to employees' requests. Employees have the right to request accommodations without fear.
There is a publication by JAN called Requesting and Negotiating Reasonable Accommodations, which focuses on accommodation issues and JAN's solutions to resolving any challenges or difficulties individuals might face in the workplace.
Here are the FIVE STEPS they mentioned in the article:
(1) Decide how you are going to make your request
You have three ways of communicating with your employer. It can be through an e-mail, formal letter, or a face-to-face meeting. The ADA does not specify the way in which you need to communicate your request. If an employer has a specific form in which they handle requests, then you would need to oblige to their processes. Many employers prefer a written form of a request for record-keeping.
(2) Decide whom you are going to ask
Human Resources are generally the department that will handle the requests; however, you may communicate with your direct supervisor or a person within management, especially when you have a good relationship with them.
(3) Explain why you need accommodation and give your accommodation ideas
It must be clear to the employer and within your communication that you are requesting an accommodation due to a medical condition. This is to safeguard you because it because clear that you are seeking accommodation under the ADA. Be prepared to consider options presented by the employer; however, prepare a few ideas of acceptable accommodations that you would like to work efficiently.
(4) Follow-up as needed
If there was no response to your request, you should verify with your employer and inquire about the delay. If your request has been denied, you should find out why it was dismissed. If necessary, provide additional information or consider other accommodation options.
(5) Monitor the accommodation
If the accommodation does not work or you need new accommodation, it is your responsibility to communicate with your employer.
Three laws protect pregnant workers.
ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA)
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
For nursing mothers, there is also additional protection under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Please note that although you might not be "considered" protected by the FMLA due to the amount of time or hours you have worked at your current position, there are other laws that will protect you against pregnancy discrimination.
Florida Laws about Pregnancy Discrimination
The Florida Supreme Court has held that pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination under the Florida Civil Rights Act.
Florida shall not terminate the employment of any employee in the career service because of her pregnancy or the employee's spouse or the adoption of a child.
Florida DOES NOT PROVIDE ADDITIONAL PROTECTION TO THE FEDERAL LAW.
Florida DOES NOT SPECIFICALLY ACCOMMODATE PREGNANCY or its attendant medical conditions as a disability.
Florida shall not refuse to grand unpaid parental or family medical leave for a period of 6 months or deny the use of accrued sick leave or other annual leave for this purpose. The state cannot require an employee to take mandatory leave. Employee, upon return, shall be reinstated to the same job or equivalent position. If any portion of the leave is paid, the employee shall be entitled to accumulate all benefits granted under the paid leave status.