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On May 15, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued four revised documents on protection against disability discrimination, pursuant to the agency’s plan to provide up-to-date guidance on the requirements of anti discrimination laws. The documents address how the American’s With Disability Act (ADA) applies to applicants and employees with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and intellectual disabilities.  These documents are available on the agency’s website “Disability Discrimination, the Question and Answer Series.”

“Nearly 34 million Americans have been diagnosed with cancer, diabetes or epilepsy and more than 2 million have an intellectual disability,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.  “Many of them are looking for jobs or are already in the workplace.  While there is a considerable amount of general information available about the ADA, the EEOC often is asked questions about how the ADA applies to these conditions.”  In plain, easy-to-understand language, the revised documents reflect the changes to the definition of disability made by the ADA Amendments Act. They make it easier to conclude that individuals with a wide variety of impairments including cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and intellectual disabilities are protected by the ADA.   Each of the documents also answers questions about topics such as: when an employer may obtain medical information from applicants and employees; what types of reasonable accommodations individuals with these particular disabilities might need; how an employer should handle safety concerns; and, what an employer should do to prevent and correct disability based harassment.

These documents should be consulted whenever an employer is considering making an offer of employment, has made an offer of employment, or has issues with a current employee in order to avoid running afoul of the ADA. Each document discusses an employer’s rights and responsibilities regarding job applicants before an offer of employment is made, after an offer of employment is made, as well as to current employees of the employer. Further, the documents discuss what types of reasonable accommodations employees with these medical conditions may need. The documents also give employers directions on how to address safety concerns.  These documents are invaluable to employers in continuing with their efforts to comply with the ADA.