The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is designed to "remove work place barriers to an individual with a handicap." It prohibits employers "from discriminating against qualified individuals because of disability in all aspects of employment." According to the ADA, an individual is "disabled" if he or she meets at least one of the following tests:
(1) Physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities;
(2) Record of such an impairment;
(3) Regarded as having such an impairment.
The ADA makes it illegal for employers in all businesses with 15 or more employees to discriminate against the handicapped. Indiana has a companion Hoosiers with Disabilities Act (enacted in 1992) applicable to employers with 6 or more employees.
In order to avoid discrimination, a business may have to make changes in the duties involved in a job, the layout of workstations, or equipment modification. Employers may also have to alter their application process, hiring procedures, wages, and benefits calculations. Medical examinations are highly regulated so as not to discriminate against the handicapped.
The ADA is generally considered far more global in its protection of the handicapped than state Second Injury Funds (SIFs). About 17 states have eliminated their SIFs.