The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a civil rights law guaranteeing equal opportunity to jobs for qualified individuals with disabilities. The following questions and answers respond to the concerns most commonly raised by police departments.

Further information about the ADA's employment requirements may be obtained from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 800-669-4000 (voice) or 800-669-6820 (TDD). Other ADA information is available through the Department of Justice's ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).

1. Q: Who is a "qualified individual with a disability" for employment?

A: A qualified individual with a disability is an employee or job applicant who meets legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that he or she holds or seeks. The person must also be able to perform the "essential" (as opposed to marginal or incidental) functions of the position either with or without reasonable accommodation. Job requirements that screen out or tend to screen out people with disabilities are legitimate only if they are job-related and consistent with business necessity.

2. Q: The ADA prohibits making disability-related inquiries or giving applicants for police jobs medical examinations until a conditional offer of employment is made. Why?

A: In the past, people with disabilities, particularly those with hidden disabilities, were denied jobs once potential employers found out about their disabilities. The ADA seeks to prohibit discrimination by limiting an employer's knowledge of an applicant's disability to a later stage of the job application process. Under the ADA an employer may only ask about an applicant's disability or give a medical examination after the employer has made a job offer. The job offer can be conditioned on successfully passing a medical...

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