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Common misconceptions about the Americans with Disabilities Act

Workers in Minnesota and throughout the country are protected by the rules and regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the "ADA." Some of our readers may be familiar with many of these protections, including that employers cannot discriminate against employees or potential employees due to the person's disability. Further, employers are required to provide "reasonable accommodations" for an employee's disability. But, there are some common misconceptions that employees and employers alike may have when it comes to the requirements of the ADA.

For instance, a recent article noted that many employers are under the false misconception that they simply have to "take the word" of an employee who reports a disability. This is not true. An employee who is requesting reasonable accommodations from an employer must provide documentation regarding the disability and how it affects their life and ability to function. But, if this documentation and verification is provided, the employer must comply with the requirements of the ADA.

Next, employers and employees alike may believe that the ADA protects only those who are impacted by physical disabilities. This is also false. The protections of the ADA extend to those who suffer from mental disabilities as well.

Lastly, employers and employees may confuse the protections of the ADA with those of the Family Medical Leave Act, also known as the "FMLA." However, as the recent article noted, these are two completely separate laws with separate requirements and separate protections, although at times the laws will run concurrently. Employees in Minnesota who believe that they may have a legal issue regarding disability discrimination that pertains to these laws may need to seek more information about their rights.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Labor Law: Myths busted under the American with Disabilities Act," Karen Michael, Aug. 28, 2017

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