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ADA: A labor law acronym that many New York employers need to note

Labor and employment issues affect businesses on a near daily basis.

Virtually every New York company principal intimately knows that. It is largely true regardless of the size of an enterprise or the market it competes in.

This is true too: Company matters involving workers occasionally flare into acrimony and formal disputes. Employment negotiation and litigation are on-the-job facts, and they occur across a broad spectrum of possibilities.

That is rendered crystal clear when considering the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, a seminal labor law that many employers need to be acutely familiar with.

The ADA: Legislation protecting millions of American workers

The ADA safeguards the workplace rights of statutorily defined “disabled” employees. The law does not attempt to comprehensively list all qualifying conditions, but it renders them clear enough: A person is disabled if substantially limited in engaging in a “major life activity.”

That logically encompasses such acts as seeing, walking, learning and so forth.

An employer imperative, but with a qualification

Businesses with at least 15 workers are subject to the ADA’s provisions in matters ranging widely from hiring and training to promotions and other factors. Here are two key points to note concerning the legislation:

  • An employer must take steps to reasonably accommodate a disabled worker
  • Undue hardship (established via an EEOC determination or, sometimes, court assessment) can be argued by an employer as grounds for not making an accommodation

There is much to know about the Act, which can challenge company managers for inherent subjectivity they sometimes see in its language, application and outcomes.