In the context of disability, disclosure is when someone who has a disability tells someone else about it.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that enforces Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other employment-related anti-discrimination laws. On the EEOC Overview webpage, the EEOC describes itself as being responsible for:

Enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered.

The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

The EEOC also publishes policy guidance on how to follow the ADA.

Equal opportunity

Equal opportunity means a person with a disability has the same chance to get a job, receive services from state or local government, or access a business or nonprofit organization as someone without a disability. However, equal opportunity does not mean that a person with a disability will get the same result or preferential treatment.

Essential function

An essential function is a part of an employee’s duties that is central to why they were hired. For example, an essential function of a cashier is to take payments and make change. And, an essential function of a pilot is to fly an airplane. Note that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer is never required to eliminate an essential job function, but an employer may need to provide a reasonable accommodation to help a person do the function.

Fair Housing Act

As amended in 1988, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination based on disability in the context of housing.

Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the federal agency that oversees laws and regulations related to communications in the United States and US territories. The FCC is responsible for enforcing Title IV of the ADA. It has also established a Disability Rights Office.

Major life activity

A major life activity is something significant that a person does in their day-to-day life. The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) describes a major life activity as follows:

Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working…it also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

The ADAAA does not provide an exhaustive list, but it does offer quite a few examples.

Marginal function

A marginal function is a job-related task that is not an essential aspect of the job. Because this task is non-essential, it could be removed from an employee’s job responsibilities if the employee were unable to perform the task due to a disability. In fact, removing a marginal function could be a reasonable accommodation. For example, consider a person who works as a housekeeper at a hotel. This person can walk well but cannot walk up and down stairs. If a small part of the job is to clean the stairwell, the hotel could reassign that responsibility to another housekeeping staff member as a reasonable accommodation. Marginal functions are different from essential functions—essential functions are tasks that are core aspects of a job.

National Council on Disability

The National Council on Disability (NCD) is an independent federal agency of the US government. It advises the President, Congress, and other federal agencies on disability-related policies, programs, and procedures. For example, in coordination with other interested parties, the NCD drafted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Northeast ADA Center

One of ten ADA centers throughout the United States, the Northeast ADA Center aims to assist people in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands with ADA-related concerns. The Northeast ADA Center provides information, guidance, and training on all aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It also provides this website! It is based in the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability in the ILR School at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York.

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