To be protected by Title I of the ADA, a person must not only be an individual with a disability, but a qualified individual. An employer is not required to hire or retain an individual who is not qualified to perform the job. According to the regulations, a qualified individual with a disability is someone with a disability who:
satisfies the requisite work, experience, education and other job related requirements of the employment position such individual holds or desires, and who, with or without reasonable accommodation can perform the essential functions of the position.
There are two basic steps to determine if an individual is qualified under the ADA. The first step is to determine if the individual meets the necessary prerequisites for the job such as:
The first step in determining whether an accountant with significant vision loss is qualified for a position as a certified public accountant (CPA) is to determine if the accountant is a licensed CPA. If not the accountant is not qualified.
This first step is referred to as determining if an individual with a disability is "otherwise qualified".
The second step determines if the individual can perform the essential functions of the job with or with out reasonable accommodation. The second step has two parts to it:
The second step requires an employer to focus on the essential functions of the job. Many people with disabilities can perform essential functions of the job but are denied employment because they cannot do things that are only marginal to the job.
If a person with a disability who is otherwise qualified cannot perform one or more essential job function because of his disability, an employer, in assessing whether or not the person with the disability is qualified to do the job, must consider whether there are modifications or adjustments that would enable the person to perform these functions. Such modifications are called "reasonable accommodation."
Titles II and III of the ADA protect qualified individuals with disabilities. Not every person with a disability is necessarily qualified.
To determine if a person with a disability is eligible to participate in the services and programs offered by a public or private entity, a person with a disability is considered to be qualified if the person meets the essential eligibility requirements with or without:
The "essential eligibility requirements" for participation in many activities may be minimal. For example a person merely has to make a request to get information about an agency's programs and services.
Under other conditions, the "essential eligibility requirements" may be very strict. For example, a medical school may require that those admitted to its programs have successfully completed specific undergraduate science courses.
Public and private entities may not discriminate against an individual or entity because of the known disability of a person with whom the individual or entity has a relationship. For example, a county recreation center may not refuse admission to a child whose brother has tuberculosis.
People without disabilities are not entitled to reasonable accommodations, modifications to policies, practices and procedures or other accommodations.
People who exercise their rights under the ADA or individuals who assist them in exercising their rights are protected against retaliation and coercion such as threats, intimidation or interference. For example, a restaurant may not refuse to serve an individual because she filed an ADA complaint against the restaurant.