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Responsibilities Under the ADA

4/20/2018

Physicians know they have a responsibility to provide health care to patients with mental or physical infirmities. But they may not know about the legal obligation to accommodate people with disabilities when it comes to hiring and other practices.

If your practice employs more than 15 employees, it faces a number of responsibilities under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). These responsibilities involve individuals with impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities, including walking, lifting, speaking, hearing or seeing. Depending on the size of your practice, it can be tricky determining whether you meet that 15-employee test. (See right-hand box.)

Discrimination rules come into play as soon as a job description is posted. They continue through the application, job interview and hiring processes.

When drafting job descriptions and application forms, be aware that:

  1. Job descriptions must focus on theessential tasks of a position. This protects disabled individuals from being disqualified for positions because they can't perform marginal or peripheral tasks.
  2. Job applications cannot contain questions that focus on possible disabilities.

Exception: Drug testing isn't considered a medical exam, so those tests can be administered at any point in the hiring process. But the ADA does provide limited discrimination protection to recovering drug addicts and alcoholics.

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