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Americans with Disabilities Act protects Larimer County workers

Everyone knows that the recent economic downturn cost millions of people their jobs. That includes an estimated 6,000 jobs in Larimer County alone. It has also been widely publicized that the current unemployment rate is higher among certain segments of the population, including African-Americans and Hispanics. What is less widely known is that higher unemployment rates are affecting people with disabilities as well.

Although exact statistics are not tracked, it is estimated that the unemployment rate for the disabled is approximately 5 percent higher than the overall unemployment rate for the rest of the country. And even though the unemployment rate is now slowly dropping and jobs are returning, people with disabilities are still finding it difficult to secure employment. In many cases, this is where the Americans with Disabilities Act can help.

The purpose of the ADA is to prohibit discrimination against those with disabilities in all phases of the employment process, including recruitment, hiring, training and promotions. A disability can range from physical injuries to mental health disorders. Because a person with a disability is to receive an equal opportunity, the ADA limits the types of questions a potential employer can ask regarding a disability.

Competition for jobs these days can be stiff, and many people who are lucky enough to secure employment are just thankful for the opportunity. Interviews with disabled individuals who have jobs have shown just that, but their employers often have more to say. They say that their employees with disabilities seem to have an even greater appreciation for their jobs than those without disabilities, evidenced by a stringent work ethic accompanied by a pleasant attitude.

The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation for disabled workers, and those employers who make those efforts often find that the alternative approach to a task is more efficient for the company or less stressful for the employee.

Employment discrimination based on a person's disability is not only wrong; it is illegal. The ADA provides employees with options when discrimination occurs, and people who believe they have been subjected to employment discrimination will want to be aware of their rights under Colorado and federal laws.

Source: coloradoan.com, "Job market tougher on those with disabilities," Pat Ferrier, March 3, 2012

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