Last week, the EEOC released four revised publications on protection against disability discrimination in the workplace. The publications describe how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to job applicants and employees with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and intellectual disabilities. The new FAQ’s are found on the EEOC website under "Disability Discrimination, The Question and Answer Series." See the EEOC’s press release here.
The EEOC’s information fact sheets address many of the practical issues confronting employers. For example, the guidance regarding intellectual disabilities defines an “intellectual disability (formerly termed mental retardation)" as "a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior that affect many everyday social and practical skills.” Such impairments would constitute a disability under the expanded definition contained in the ADA Amendments Act (the ADAAA). The guidance outlines some of the special issues that can occur in the interview and hiring process for such individuals, including permitted inquiries before and after an employment offer is made. The EEOC also offers extensive guidance on the accommodation process.
While EEOC fact sheets do not change the law, they do illustrate the EEOC enforcement position on the legal issues and are available to employees and courts as information about the required steps of the interview, hiring and accommodation process. Employers are advised to carefully review the EEOC’s formal guidelines, fact sheets and other information regarding the recruitment and hiring of individuals with disabilities.