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Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act is divided into five sections:

Title I - EMPLOYMENT
Title I prohibits employers from discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

Title II - PUBLIC SERVICES, INCLUDING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SERVICES PROVIDED BY PUBLIC ENTITIES
Title II provides that no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.

Title III - PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS AND SERVICES OPERATED BY PRIVATE ENTITIES
Title III states that no individual shall be discriminated on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations by any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases, leases to or operates a place of public accommodation. Existing places of public accommodation must be made readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities if such alterations are "readily achievable". Where places of public accommodation undergo construction and major renovation, the altered portion of the facility must be designed and constructed to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. Title III also prohibits private entities that provide public transportation services from engaging in certain discriminatory acts or omissions.

Title IV - TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Title IV mandates that common carriers of telephone services provide intrastate and interstate telecommunications relay services. Its purpose is to provide these services to individuals who use non-voice terminal devices because of disabilities, such as deafness, and to afford them with opportunities for communications that are equivalent to those provided to individuals who use voice telephone services.

Title V - MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
Title V contains several miscellaneous provisions, including coverage for Congress.
The two (2) Titles that will have a significant impact on our organization will be Titles I and II. The following summarizes some of the issues involved.


Title I - Employment
As employers, we may not discriminate against an individual with a disability in hiring, advancement, compensation, training discharge, or other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

Who is a disabled person?

  1. A person with physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. (A major life activity includes such things as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.)
  2. Some examples of disabilities that probably should now be considered a "protected class" would be persons with: epilepsy, AIDS, MS, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asbestosis and related diseases, vision in only one eye, use of hearing aids, schizophrenia, back injury which limits ability to lift "heavy" weight, learning disabilities, dyslexia, physical disfigurement, drug addicts/alcoholics not currently substance abusers etc.
  3. Persons who probably should not be considered to be disabled have such conditions as: left-handedness, obesity, lack of education, prison record, advanced age (specific afflictions associated with age could be considered covered disabilities), poor judgment, bad temper, current user of illegal drugs, and any temporary disabilities, i.e., pregnancy, broken limb, etc., nor is any sexual behavior disorder such as transvestitism, pedophilia, voyeurism, etc.

Employers must make "Reasonable Accommodations" to disabled persons, and those who must care for a disabled person.

  1. Reasonable Accommodations means: When hiring a person with a disability, we may need to make an accommodation; restructuring jobs, rearranging work schedules, modifying equipment or devices, providing Braille devices, interpreters, telephone amplifiers, modified furniture, etc.
  2. The law requires us to make a reasonable accommodation unless we can demonstrate that the accommodation will cause us an undue hardship. Undue hardship, with respect to "accommodation", means significant difficulty or expense will be incurred by Mesquite ISD.
  3. Employees/applicants may request that an accommodation be made. Even if we determine that an accommodation is too costly, the applicant/employee must be offered an opportunity to pay only what we found to be excessive.
  4. We can set minimum qualifications to perform the job, but may be required to provide personal assistants to assist the disabled in performing the job. Note: We are not required to provide personal items such as glasses, hearing aids, etc.
  5. We are not required to hire/retain an employee in a position that poses a high probability or substantial risk of harm to the individual or to others. Note: Documented valid medical analysis or other objective evidence would be required to discharge or not hire such individuals because of the disability. Speculative harm or a possibility of harm would not disqualify the individual.

Title II - Public Services

Title II extends the provisions of the ADA to state and local governments and their agencies. Title II prohibits school districts from excluding individuals with disabilities the benefits of the services, programs or activities of a school district, or those services, programs or activities provided by a contractor of the school district.

Mesquite ISD must provide accessibility to programs, services or activities including the mobility-impaired, hearing and speech impaired, and the blind, as well. Examples of what is required; the requirement to communicate in an equally effective manner may involve a variety of auxiliary aids and services including (1) qualified interpreters, note takers, transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, listening devices, listening systems, telephones compatible with hearing aids, closed caption decoders, telecommunication devices for deaf persons, or other effective methods of making orally delivered materials available to individuals with hearing impairments; (2) qualified readers, taped texts, audio recordings, Braille materials, large print materials, or other effective methods of making visually delivered materials available to individuals with vision impairments; (3) aquisition or modification of equipment and devices; (4) other similar services and actions.

When requested, Mesquite ISD is required to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services to people with disabilities to participate in or enjoy a service, program, or activity (i.e., School Board meetings, and public hearings).

New facilities, when constructed, must be made readily accessible to persons with disabilities. Areas in existing facilities that undergo alterations must be made accessible to persons with disabilities. "Facilities" means all or part of buildings, structures, sites, complexes, equipment, roads, walks, passageways, parking lots, garages, indoor and outdoor where human-constructed elements have been added.


Key Title I - Employment Related Issues

The Act took effect for state/municipal government employers on January 26, 1992

As employers, we may not discriminate against an individual with a disability in hiring, advancement, compensation, training, discharge, or other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

A. We may not inquire into the possibility of a disability or previous workers' compensation claims at the pre-employment stage. However, if a person has an obvious disability, we may ask them to explain or demonstrate how they will be able to perform any essential or marginal job function, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Essential function is basically the reason the job exists. We must define what is essential in a clear, concise and up to date job description before the job is posted. We must be able to demonstrate what portion of the time is spent on an essential function, and the consequences of not performing the function by past and current experience of incumbents/supervisors.

B. All tests must be job related and consistent with a specific business necessity.

Employers may not deny equal access to health benefit plans.

A. To deny benefits or charge extra, we must have sound actuarial evidence as to why benefits were denied or why rates are different.

B. Pre-existing conditions clauses still apply as long as they are not subterfuge to discriminate.

RELATED LINKS:

ADA Accommodations Request Form

BASIC RULES FOR INTERVIEWING

  • DO NOT ask questions concerning disabilities. It is applicant's/employee's responsibility to inform us.

  • DO NOT ask applicants questions about past health problems.

  • DO NOT refuse to hire an otherwise qualified person because of a possibility of a future back or other injury.

  • DO ask, "Are there any reasons why you could have difficulty in performing the job functions I have explained to you?" If applicant answers "yes,"

A.  Carefully consider what accommodation could reasonably be made.

B.  Discuss your concerns and any possible options/accommodations with your supervisor.

  • DO inform applicants that your offer of employment is contingent on passing the medical examination.

  • DO treat all applicants equally and do ask the same job related questions to each applicant.

  • DO treat all health and medical disclosures as confidential, and discuss them only with persons on a "need-to-know" basis.

  • DO review your job descriptions to assure all "essential" job functions are listed. Note: If you are in doubt about essential functions, contact the MISD ADA Coordinator for assistance.

  • DO consider limiting employees authorized to conduct job interviews to only those who have received ADA training.