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Focus: seminal importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Although many important points concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act are made in an online overview that serves as a primer on the subject, two things emerge with special force.

First, it is unquestionable that the ADA legislation has been seminal in addressing discrimination -- and, sometimes, prejudicial behavior -- at the American workplace. Work environments across the country are tasked to reasonably accommodate the needs of disabled workers.

The salutary and obvious result: a collective nationwide workforce that is far more diverse and potent than would otherwise be the case.

Second, and notwithstanding the great benefits that flow from the ADA (to employees and employers alike), it is important to note that the legislation was only enacted in 1990. Although that was a quarter century ago, not enough time has yet passed to ensure that all questions and challenges associated with disability at the workplace have been resolved.

As the above-cited overview states, the ADA is "a fairly recent law, one that employers, attorneys, and courts are still working to fully understand and properly apply."

At the forefront of many legal disputes is the central question surrounding the meaning of "reasonable accommodation." What does that entail in a given case?

And what about the "undue hardship" language cited in the ADA? Although the legislation mandates reasonable accommodation, an employer isn't legally compelled to take actions to accommodate a worker with a disability to the extent that undue hardship results for the employer.

Affected workers should know that, despite some ambiguities in the ADA, they have a strong ally in the legislation, which bars discrimination against disabled persons seeking employment and maintaining their jobs after being hired, respectively.

An experienced employment law attorney can answer questions regarding the ADA, as well as provide knowledgeable representation concerning a work-related matter to any person with a disability.