What should Minnesota employees know about disability law?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects Minnesota workers with disabilities from workplace discrimination. According to the law, local and state governments, private employers, labor unions and employment agencies are prohibited from discriminating against employees who have qualifying disabilities. Indeed, not all Americans with disabilities require Social Security disability insurance to survive; many excel at high level jobs when reasonable accommodation is provided.

The discrimination protections offered by the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to job training, compensation, advancement, firing and other situations. Generally speaking, the ADA's protections apply to employers who have 15 or more individuals on staff, but there are other guidelines that determine its scope.

As for qualifying for protection, employees must have a mental or physical impairment that limits his or her ability to perform major life activities in a substantial way. The person must also have record of the impairment and/or is regarded to suffer from the impairment.

Disabled individuals must also have the ability to perform their jobs, whether that ability depends on reasonable accommodation or not. Reasonable accommodation may include reasonable increased accessibility of facilities -- so that they can be used by people with disabilities. It might also include a modified work schedule, job description changes or being reassigned to another position that is vacant. It might also include the purchase of modified equipment, adjusted examinations, special training materials and other types of accommodation.

Minnesota workers with disabilities who suspect that they are not being provided with reasonable accommodation may have the ability to assert their rights and fight for them in court. Sometimes, obtaining the accommodation one requires is no more complicated than asking for them. However, if reasonable accommodation is being denied, then the law is on the side of employees with disabilities. By securing this accommodation, many employees will be able to circumvent the threat of unemployment and the need to apply for Social Security disability benefits.

Source: FindLaw, "What should I know about Social Security Disability?" accessed Feb. 20, 2015

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