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How does the law protect the disabled?

The Americans With Disabilities Act protects the disabled. Signed into law in 1990, the ADA makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of disability. The ADA has been the law of the land for nearly 30 years, but it still can be confusing to people.

Take this true-false quiz to see how well you understand the ADA - and learn how it could protect you.

You should also be aware that some state laws - such as the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Act - give protections to the disabled that go above and beyond what the ADA requires.

1. The ADA requires employers to give disabled workers special privileges.

False. The ADA requires that employers give the disabled reasonable accommodations. The Department of Labor says: "Reasonable accommodations are intended to ensure that qualified individuals with disabilities have rights in employment equal -- not superior -- to those of individuals without disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is a modification to a job, work environment or the way work is performed."

2. It's illegal for an employer to fire an employee who has a disability.

False: Employers can fire workers with disabilities if:

  • The firing is not related to the disability, or
  • The employee doesn't meet eligibility requirements for the job. This can include performance or production standards, or
  • The employee's disability poses a direct threat to the health or safety in the workplace.

3. The ADA doesn't apply to all businesses.

True. Many people are surprised to learn that the ADA only applies to employers who have 15 or more employees. However, the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Act applies to employers with one or more employees.

4. The ADA forces employers to hire unqualified individuals with disabilities.

False: To be protected by the ADA, a disabled person must be qualified for the job. This means the person must meet all requirements for a job and "be able to perform its essential functions with or without reasonable accommodations," according to the Department of Labor.

5. The ADA does not protect workers who are using illegal drugs.

True. Even if the worker is enrolled in a drug treatment program, the ADA does not provide employment protection.

If you have questions about the ADA or other employment matter, contact an experienced employment law attorney.

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