You have a bulging disc, but your employer still wants you to lift that 50-pound bag of birdseed. Under the Americans with Disabilities act (ADA), can she do that?
While the question may seem pretty straightforward, it isn’t. Whomever you ask (if they know their stuff) is likely to bombard you with strange phrases like “essential functions,” “undue hardship” and “reasonable accommodation.”
And those are just the words. You may also get a strange smattering of initials, such as Title 1, Sec. 504, FMLA and ADAAA.
There is a method to this madness – the phrases/initials actually stand for concepts that may be crucial in getting an answer to your question. But how can you figure it all out?
While there’s no easy answer, there are some computer programs/applications that can help you convert this strange language into meaningful terms. They are no substitute for getting legal advice, but they can at least help you “speak the language.”
One of the best ones is the search portal at the ADA National Network. https://adata.org/ada-document-portal. For example, if you open this link and then enter “reasonable accommodation” into the search engine, you will get many sublinks that explain what it is and how it has been applied to various workplace scenarios. You can also learn whether your condition is likely to be considered a “disability” under the law, as well as the different ways to “reasonably accommodate” it.
Knowledge is power, and the ADA National Network is quite a powerful tool to help you better understand disability law.
(And by the way, ADAAG stands for ADA Accessibility Guidelines and GINA stands for the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act. If you want more information, you know where to look!)
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