Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life including employment, education, and all private and public places accessible to the general public.  The purpose of this law is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities enjoyed by others. According to this law, persons with disabilities or perceived disabilities should be given fair and equal treatment with regards to transportation, employment, and education among other sectors.

A disability or perceived disability under the ADA is:

  • 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.

The ADA has numerous provisions for persons with disabilities, but only Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 applies to talent planning and acquisition. This title specifies the equal employment opportunity requirements employers must adhere to for persons with disabilities. According to this provision:

  • Employers must provide qualified persons with disabilities equal consideration with regard to recruitment, termination, promotion, and other terms and conditions of employment.
  • Employers must make reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities in the workplace. Examples of accommodating an employee with a disability are modifying the work environment to fit the employee (i.e., installing ramps in an office space) or modifying job descriptions to suit qualified candidates.

The original law made it mandatory for employers with 15 or more employees to implement this law and integrate it into the operations of the organizations. Over the years, amendments to the ADA have given persons with disabilities the right to affirmative action protection from federal contractors, as well as employers in charge of federally-funded projects (“Disability”, n.d.).