In simple terms, substantial limitation refers to a specific situation that creates a significant disability in executing daily tasks. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, activities that fall under major bodily functions and significant life activities will be hindered by substantial limitations. These activities include:
Standing, lifting, and walking
Interacting and reading
Thinking, focusing, and learning
Carrying out manual jobs
Usual cell development and immune system functions
Neurological and circulatory processes
Digestive systems as well as the bladder functions
An employee is considered to have a substantial limitation if any of these above functions are harmed by a serious impairment. It can significantly limit a worker’s ability to do a job properly if proper adjustments are not made.
Which Individuals Can Be Eligible for Substantial Limitation?
To protect the rights and benefits of disabled workers, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, was established in 2009. This act prevents all kinds of discrimination and injustice toward disabled employees in the workplace. But according to the ADA, a worker must be eligible for the term “substantial limitation” in order to get disability benefits. An employee has to fulfill a three-prong definition of disability that includes a substantial limitation.
The 1st prong for substantial limitation includes:
Physical impairments like:
Mental impairments like:
Any kind of significant anatomical loss
The 2nd prong adds a type of disability that’s not hindering an employee's work. For instance, a worker has just recovered from cancer or severe trauma. Lastly, the 3rd prong involves workers who are facing discrimination because of their disability. For example, a recruiter may not hire a worker because of their physical impairments. All three prongs indicate substantial limitation, which is a prerequisite for disability status.
What is Called a Reasonable Accommodation Under ADA?
Based on the ADA, reasonable accommodation means the adjustments an employer has to make in order to allow disabled workers to perform their duties. From the recruitment process to the work environment, an employer has to make necessary modifications to create equal employment opportunities for disabled workers.
But an employer can apply for undue hardship if the reasonable accommodations could potentially cause a threat to the business. Some of the reasonable accommodations listed by the ADA are:
Allowing accessible parking opportunities to workers who can’t move freely.
Providing feedback in a way that disabled employees can understand.
Buying or modifying equipment for disabled employees.
Relocating or reassigning disabled employees to more suitable positions.
All companies with more than fifteen workers must provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers.
How Can Someone Apply for Reasonable Accommodation?
A disabled employee has to follow certain steps to get approval for reasonable accommodation from the employee. First, the worker must tell the employer about the nature of their disability. In addition, the worker can also show authentic medical documents as proof of their physical impairment. When an employer receives a reasonable accommodation request, they have to let the employee know that their application:
Will be viewed by other members for making decisions.
Will not be shared with coworkers.
Will not be included in the employment file of that individual.
If the information checks out after the review process, the employer will provide reasonable accommodation to their employees in a proper manner.
Do Reasonable Accommodation Applications Get Rejected?
Yes, applications for reasonable accommodations can get rejected legally if the applicant:
Has a temporary impairment that is not included as a disability.
Can’t provide authentic medical reports for disability.
Can carry out all the essential tasks without any assistance.
Apply for accommodations that can potentially disrupt health and safety.
The substantial limitation is an essential part of gaining disability status for impaired workers. If disabled employees can prove their substantial limitations to the employer, they can be provided with reasonable accommodations to perform tasks properly. That’s why having a proper understanding of this term can be beneficial for both employees and employers at the same time.