The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the most important law that protects the rights of people with disabilities and allows them to be productive members of the workforce.

The ADA is a large and very complicated law that makes it illegal for employers, state and local governments, public accommodations, and transportation and telecommunication agencies to discriminate against people with disabilities. Specifically, Title I of the ADA applies to employers and how they must treat both job applicants and employees with disabilities. Title I requires employers to supply reasonable accommodations when necessary to allow persons with disabilities to:

  • Have an equal opportunity to compete with other job applicants during the hiring process
  • Be able to perform the essential (or important) job duties
  • Enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment

The Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA) is a state law that prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities. The ACRA offers pretty much the same protections as the ADA. The Arizona attorney general’s office has a Civil Rights Division (ACRD) that enforces ACRA.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires private employers with 50 or more employees and all state, local, and federal government employers to give qualified employees up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave a year for specific reasons. To take the leave, you must have recently given birth or adopted a child, have a serious health condition, including pregnancy-related health conditions or incapacities, or be taking care of a family member with a serious health condition.

In these situations, any time you take off from work will be “job-protected,” which means that at the end of your leave, you must be allowed to return to your original job or be given another job with similar benefits, pay, and terms and conditions. The FMLA also requires that your employer continue to supply you with group health insurance benefits during your leave.

This article discusses these laws and how you can make sure that your rights are respected.

You can get a job

Some people think nobody will hire them because they have a disability.

That’s not true: Employers will hire you. Employers want:

  • Employees who can do excellent work.
  • Employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences that help increase productivity and innovation.
  • Employees who represent the community in which they provide their products and services.

This includes people with disabilities and employers know that.

It’s your choice how much you tell an employer about your disability:

  • Employers cannot ask you to tell about a disability before or after you get a job.
  • Employers cannot discriminate against a person who has a disability.

And once you start work:

  • You can decide if you want to ask for a reasonable accommodation that helps you succeed at work. Many reasonable accommodations are free or low-cost for employers.
  • Many employers have disability inclusion policies.
  • Many employers have support groups for employees with disabilities.

The bottom line: Employers hire people who they think are skilled, qualified, and have something to offer. Once you get a job, you and your employer have the same goal: for you to succeed.

Learn more about disclosing a disability or asking for a reasonable accommodation in DB101’s Job Supports and Accommodations article.