While quite a bit of attention has been paid to sex-based discrimination and harassment both in the news media and in previous posts on this blog, it is important for Minnesota residents to remember that there are many other forms of discrimination that occur in the workplace as well. Age, race, gender and religious discrimination are all still issues that employees and employers alike deal with on a seemingly routine basis. There are laws in place to protect workers from these types of scenarios. For disabled employees, they are protected from discrimination in the workplace by the Americans with Disabilities Act — commonly known as the “ADA.”

What are the basic protections of the ADA? Well, for starters, it is important to realize that the ADA was enacted into law in order to help disabled individuals have access to the job market, just like anyone else would. So, in order to achieve this goal, the ADA requires that employers who are in the hiring process cannot discriminate against a potential employee — an applicant — just because the person has an observable or documented physical or mental disability.

Next, employers who do hire individuals with disabilities are required by the ADA to provide “reasonable accommodations.” Our readers may think that this is a relative term, but the ADA actually does a decent job of describing what exactly what the term “reasonable accommodations” means. Basically, it means that the employer is required to make suitable changes to the workplace environment to accommodate the individual’s disability, as long as the change does not result in “undue hardship” for the employer.

Employees in Minnesota who are disabled have employment law rights. It is important for employers and employees alike to be aware of these rights.