1:5 Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is intended to enhance and protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in all life activities and to provide clear, consistent, enforceable standards for addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

The Act is comprised of five separate titles which prohibit discrimination in employment, transportation, public accommodations, and telecommunications, as well as several other miscellaneous areas. Title I, Employment, and Title II, Public Accommodations, have the greatest impact on employees and job applicants at Princeton University.

The employment title ensures that qualified individuals with disabilities, including both applicants and current employees, have available to them the same employment opportunities as people without disabilities. It includes, but is not limited to, the following areas. 

  • hiring (application procedures, recruitment, etc.)
  • promotion and transfers
  • discharge (layoffs, terminations, rehires, etc.)
  • all forms of compensation
  • job training
  • fringe benefits
  • job descriptions/classification
  • all leaves of absence
  • other aspects of employment

A disability under the ADA is defined as a known physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of an individual's major life activities. Individuals are also entitled to protection under the law if they have a record of such an impairment, are regarded as having such an impairment but who are not disabled, or have an association of an individual with a disability.

Current or recent use of illegal drugs or alcohol related problems are not disabilities under ADA; however, once individuals have successfully completed a rehabilitation program they are protected under the Act.

When working with a qualified individual with a disability, employers are required to determine whether there are any reasonable accommodations that could be made which would allow the individual to compete on the same level as those without disabilities. For example: job restructuring, modified work schedule, reassignment to vacant positions, new or modified equipment, provision of qualified readers/interpreters are all examples of accommodations which could be requested. However, the Act does not require that the employee accept the accommodation offered and includes this provision to ensure that employers do not offer unacceptable solutions based on discrimination.

The employer must accommodate the qualified individual unless it can be proven that doing so would cause "undue hardship". Undue hardship is defined as "requiring significant difficulty or expense and is subject to interpretation on a case by case basis." An employer can, however, refuse to accommodate those who can be proven to pose a direct threat to the safety of themselves or others.

The Public Accommodations title requires that all buildings and other facilities that are open to the general public be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Libraries, museums, theaters, lecture halls and other edifices must be made accessible to individuals with disabilities, which may include physical, visual and/or audible accommodations.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for monitoring compliance with the ADA. Remediation and enforcement procedures are defined under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The above information is a summary only and is in no way intended to be legal advice. Furthermore, this should be read in concert with University policies and procedures. Requests for further information should be directed to your Human Resources Region Manager.