Division of

Diversity and Inclusion

Frequently Asked Questions
How is disability defined in the law?
An individual with a disability is a person who:  Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment.

What are reasonable accommodations?
A.  Reasonable accommodation may include, but is not limited to; making existing facilities used by students and employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities; job restructures, work schedule modifications, reassignment to a vacant position; acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, adjustment or modifications of  examinations, training materials or policies, and provision of qualified readers or interpreters.

An employer is required to make an accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee, if it would not impose undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. Undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense, when considered in light of factors such as employer’s budget, size, etc. An employer is not obligated to provide personal use items as an accommodation.

Are employees or applicants who are currently using drugs covered by ADA?
A.  No.  Individuals who currently engage in illegal use of drugs are specifically excluded from the definition of a “Qualified individual with a disability” protected by the ADA when the employer takes action on the basis of their drug use.

Can an employer require the same level of performance from an employee with a disability?
A.  An employer can hold employees with disabilities to the same standards of performance as other similarly situated employees without disabilities for performing essential job functions, with or without accommodation. 

Can an employer establish specific attendance and leave policies?
A.  An employer can establish attendance and leave policies that are uniformly applied to all employees, regardless of disability, but may not refuse leave needed by an employee with a disability if other employees get such leave. An employer also may be required to make adjustments in leave policy as a reasonable accommodation. The employer is not obligated to provide additional paid leave, but accommodations may include leave flexibility and unpaid leave.

An individual with a disability may requests a modification of the leave policy as a reasonable accommodation and an employer may be required to provide it, unless it would impose an undue hardship.

Are alcoholics covered by the ADA?
A.  Yes. While a current illegal user of drugs is not protected by the ADA if an employer acts on the basis of such use, a person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection. An alcoholic is a person with a disability and is protected by the ADA if she/he is qualified to perform the essential functions of the job. An employer may be required to provide an accommodation to an alcoholic. However, an employer can discipline, discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic whose use of alcohol adversely affects job performance or conduct. An employer also may prohibit the use of alcohol in the workplace and can require that employees not be under the influence of alcohol.