Individual with a Disability
Note: Both state and federal laws provide definitions of “handicapped” individuals. Since these laws were written, “disabled individuals” or “individuals with a disability” has become the preferred term. For purposes of this policy the term “disability” is used with the understanding that it has the same meaning as “handicap” in state and federal law.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 in part states that all state agencies must comply with Title I of the ADA and as such prohibits employment discrimination against “qualified individuals with disabilities.” A qualified individual with a disability is:
An individual with a disability who meets the skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of a position held or desired, and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of a job.
The ADA definition of individual with a disability is very specific. A person with a “disability” is an individual who:
- has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities;
- has a record of such an impairment; or
- is regarded as having such an impairment.
The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act defines an individual with a disability as one who: a) has a physical or mental impairment which makes achievement unusually difficult or limits the capacity to work; b) has a record of such an impairment; or c) is perceived as having such an impairment.
The determination of whether an impairment is a disability shall be determined on a case-by-case basis. The definition of “disability” shall be construed in favor of a broad coverage of conditions and should not require extensive analysis.
Regarded As Disabled
Regarded As Disabled is an individual who is regarded as being disabled whether, or not, a disability actually exists. The individual is protected from discrimination on the basis of the perceived disability, but does not have the right to receive a reasonable accommodation on the basis of such perceived disability.
Substantially limiting is defined as an impairment that significantly restricts the duration, manner, or condition under which an individual can perform a major life activity compared to an average person in the general population. The term should be construed broadly in favor of expansive coverage, and may be evaluated on an individualized basis considering the difficulty, time and effort required to perform activities. An impairment that is episodic or in remission but would substantially limit a major life activity when active is a disability. The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without the consideration of the positive effects of any mitigating measures, except for ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Major Life Activities
Major life activities include but are 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. Major life activities also include major bodily functions including, but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, and digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
Qualified Individual with a Disability
An individual with a disability whose experience, education and/or training enable the person, with reasonable accommodation, to perform the essential functions of the job. An individual who poses a direct threat to self or others is not qualified under the ADA or applicable state law. A direct threat is defined as any significant risk to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services.
Defined as any modification or adjustment to a job, an employment practice, or the work environment that are necessary to provide equal employment opportunities to qualified job applicants and/or enable an employee to perform the essential functions and duties of his or her work. Institutions are not required to supply individuals with attendants, individually prescribed equipment or devices such as hearing aids or wheelchairs, readers for personal use or study, or other items or services of a personal nature.
Accommodations are not reasonable if they require the waiver or removal of an essential function or duty of an employee’s position or create an undue hardship.
An institution is obligated to provide a reasonable accommodation only for the known disabilities of an otherwise qualified individual.
Defined as “an action that requires ‘significant difficulty or expense’ in relation to the size of the employer, the resources available, and the nature of the operation.” In general undue hardship includes any action that is: (1) unduly costly; (2) extensive; (3) substantial; (4) disruptive; or (5) that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.