Disabilities in the Workplace

The law

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) works to prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities who have applied for, or work in, their company. The act covers a broad range of aspects including the hiring process, employment contract, work incentives, pay, promotion opportunities, dismissal and much more. It is also required that all businesses that employ over 15 employees must adhere to the conditions provided in the ADA.

Essentially, employers who are subject to the Americans Disability Act must never discriminate against any qualified individual because of their disability. Recruiters need to be able to identify qualified individuals with disabilities against those who are not.

Who is a qualified person?

A qualified person is someone who is qualified to perform the essential tasks of their job, with or without the support or added services as provided by their employer.

Importance of avoiding discrimination in the workplace

Research has shown the negative effects discrimination against those with disabilities can have on one’s confidence, and ability to perform their job. Not only is discrimination illegal and prosecutable, but in many cases, a person’s disability does not affect their ability to perform the duties of their job – if it did, it is unlikely they would have been hired in the first place. It is therefore important to treat employees with disabilities fairly, and regard them for their expertise and skills in the workplace rather than allow their disability to cloud this.

Who is protected by the ADA?

  1. Any employee with a physical or mental impairment that limits their activity
  2. Employees who have previously suffered with disabilities
  3. Employees who are not disabled but who the recruiter considers to be disabled

To what extent do employers need to accommodate employees with disabilities?

Although employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees with disabilities, there is a certain level of protection for employers also when it comes to hiring and employing disabled persons.

According to the ADA, if employers will be faced with undue hardship in terms of the expenses and cost of accommodating a disabled employee, then they are not required to provide reasonable accommodation.


Overall, recruiters need to remember that some of the most highly qualified, skilled and experienced candidates may have a disability, and as such, it is vital that the disabilities are not used against the individual or the cause of that person not being successful in getting the job.