Agricultural Employers' Duties to Disabled Workers: What's Safety Got to Do With It?

  • Bean, Mary Lou

In order to address the major areas of discrimination faced on a day-to-day basis by people with disabilities, in 1990, the United States Congress enacted Public Law 101-336, otherwise known as the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Among the goals of Congress was to assure equality of opportunity in employment to individuals with disabilities.

Effective July 26,1994, any person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has fifteen (15) or more employees for each working day in each of twenty (20) or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year is defined as an employer who is subject to the provisions of Title I - Employment of the ADA. Under Title I, no covered employer, including agricultural employers, shall discriminate against a qualified job applicant or current employee with a disability because of the disability. The ADA does not, however, require an employer to hire or continue to employ an individual whose presence in the workplace constitutes a direct threat to that individual or to others.

This presentation will discuss basic concepts of the ADA relevant to agricultural employers, including the definition of the terms disability, undue hardship, and direct threat; reasonable accommodations in an agricultural workplace; and the remedies available under the ADA to individuals who have suffered employment discrimination because of their disability.

This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

M.L. Bean, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

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