10 Common ADA Disabilities- How to Accommodate them

 

Background

 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and government activities.  The ADA also establishes requirements for telecommunications relay services. 

Under the ADA, it prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. 

 

1.       Back or Spinal Injury

The most common disability claim, which accounts for 19.1% of ADA claims.  One of the most common limitations with back injuries is lifting.  Often times in applications, lifting requirements are listed, but if your employee has a disclosed back or spinal injury, either a transfer or temporary transfer to another department where they aren’t expected to lift weight, can be a reasonable accommodation example.

 

2.       Mental or Psychiatric Impairments

 Mental and psychiatric impairments account for 11.7% of ADA claims.  Included in these claims are depression, psychological problems, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or bipolar disease.  Accommodating these diseases can be difficult, but it is necessary to take the right steps for the employees.  The EEOC suggests possible reasonable accommodations can be: job modifications, reassignment of tasks to other workers, or a transfer to a vacant position. 

 

3.       Extremities

 Extremity disabilities, including hand and leg impairments, or carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) account for 8.1% of ADA claims.  If a person has a disability with their hand, and typing is a responsibility, they could either offer a transfer to another position, or offer to pay for typing classes.  If a person has a disability with their legs and their job requires standing, offer them multiple breaks, or a position where standing isn’t as necessary.

 

4.       Neurological Impairments

 Neurological impairments account for 11.7% of ADA claims, which include: Epilepsy, severe migraines, and nervous system disorders.  If an employee has epilepsy, the employer can offer a modified driving schedule, so they do not have to drive at night.  Flexible schedules, and other arrangements with the employee can made for reasonable accommodations.

 

5.       Heart impairments

 Of the ADA claims, 4.4% of those are from heart impairments.  If an individual has a heart defect, it would be advise to alter the individual’s position to not require any strenuous activities or heavy lifting.

 

6.       Substance abuse

 We have previously written about former USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian, in where he was terminated after he left his position to receive treatment for his alcoholism.  Under the ADA, alcoholism is covered, although it doesn’t mean that a person who suffers from alcoholism is allowed to be under the influence during their scheduled work hours.  Also, the ADA excludes requirements for the employer to accommodate illegal drug use, however employers are allowed to prohibit legal drug use and alcohol use.  An example of reasonable accommodation can be allowing a leave of absence to treat the disease. 

 

7.       Diabetes

 Diabetes is officially covered under the ADA, in which account for 3.5% of claims.  However, some courts have found that it isn’t a recognized disability.  Courts recommend that employers should consider changes in its work rules, facilities, and terms and conditions of employment, which would be reasonable accommodations.

 

8.       Hearing impairments

Hearing impairments are responsible for 3% of ADA claims, which include complete deafness and hearing loss.  If the employee encounters hearing loss after accepting a position which requires a telephone, reasonable accommodation could be to provide a text telephone system or transfer them to a vacant position.

 

9.       Vision impairments

 Vision impairments including total blindness, and other serious vision requirements account for 2.8%.  An example of reasonable accommodation for vision impairments can range from either providing a reading assistant, or to purchasing equipment which can aid their impairment.  As always, transferring the employee to a different position is recommended.

 

10.   Blood disorder

 Blood disorders like hepatitis are covered by the ADA and accounts for 2.6% of claims.  These type of diseases are to be treated appropriately, especially if the individual is responsible for handling food, where the employer needs to eliminate risk of transmission of the disease through reasonable accommodation.  Reasonable accommodation for this would be assigning the employees different tasks, where it is impossible for transmission of the pathogen.