Salient Features Of The Americans With Disabilities Act

Disability is a physical problem which has enormous and sometimes crippling social effects. People tend to look upon the disabled as lesser being, which, quite obviously, fails to stand to reason. But then social behaviour is not always based on rational thinking. Most of the time it is, more or less, an emotional response to a social situation or circumstances. Perhaps, that's the reason why the legislature of the United States enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act, which came into effect on July 26, 1992.

The legislation prohibits discrimination on account disability by any employer including private companies. A disabled cannot be discriminated against in applying for the job, the procedure for selection, hiring or firing, salary or any other benefit. They cannot even be discriminated against by the trade unions. In other words, a disabled has to be treated at par with other human beings insofar as he can perform the job he is employed for in the same manner as a normal person can.

As per the legislation, a disabled is a person who has such a physical or mental impairment that one or more of his life activities are substantially compromised. The definition includes those who have had a history of such impairment or are regarded as having it.

The employers are supposed to make such changes as would make it comfortable for a person with disability to perform the required work comfortably. However, these changes are to be made only if they do not cause 'undue hardship' to the business of the employer in question.

Whether or not it causes the said 'undue hardship,' it has to be considered in light of the size of the establishment, the financial resources at the disposal of the employer and the operational nature of the business. It is not incumbent upon the employer to provide things like hearing aids for the benefit of the disabled employee, neither is he supposed to compromise on the quality or quantity of the output to accommodate a disabled.

In other words, an employer is required not to discriminate against a disabled and provide all facilities so far as it does not seriously effect or strain the running of his business in any way. The Act, therefore, seeks to promote social acceptance and financial independence of the disabled without compromising on the over all industrial output.