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Workers with disabilities have certain rights and responsibilities. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other disability protection legislation, it is against the law for certain businesses to discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. This fact sheet explains employment rights and responsibilities for you and the business.

Equal Opportunity Employment

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a law designed to prevent discrimination and enable individuals with disabilities to participate fully in society. Everyone who wants to work and is qualified has an equal opportunity at every job.

From the ADA and other non-discrimination laws, you have the right to:

  • Freedom from harassment.
  • Not be discriminated against in all employment practices.
  • Assert your rights and not to be fired for it.
  • Request reasonable accommodation for the hiring process and on the job.

Reasonable Accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things usually are done that would allow you to apply for a job, perform job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits. Examples include:

  • Physical changes – installing a ramp or modifying a workspace.
  • Sign language interpreters and/or readers.
  • Providing quieter workspace.
  • Training and written materials in accessible format.
  • Teletypewriters for use, appropriate hardware and software.
  • Accessible break rooms, cafeterias, and restrooms.

A reasonable accommodation may be requested at any time. If you acquire a disability after you are hired, or if your disability affects the way you perform your job, you should let your supervisor know. It is your responsibility to request an accommodation.

Your employer is allowed to offer to place you in a different job if it is determined that there is no other way for you to perform the essential functions of your current job.

Job Recruitment and the Application Process

Businesses are obligated to make the application process accessible for anyone who wishes to apply.

Employers are not allowed to ask disability-related questions on job applications.

For Affirmative Action purposes only, an employer may ask you to voluntarily disclose if you have a disability. This is okay as long as it is stated that giving the information requested is voluntary and will be kept confidential. Information provided cannot be used against you.

You can ask for accommodations in order to take tests that are a required part of the application process.


It is your responsibility to request an accommodation for the interview. If you do not ask, the interviewer will not know that you want one. Reasonable accommodations include holding the interview in an accessible location, providing sign language interpreters, or providing a reader for an applicant who is blind.

You should never be asked to pay for an accommodation. The employer pays for accommodations, unless it creates an undue hardship to the employer.

Employers may not ask disability-related questions during an interview. They may not ask if you have a disability, or what type of medications you are taking. Employers may not ask you to take a medical examination during or before the interview process.

Employers may ask about your ability to perform essential functions of the job for which you are interviewing with or without accommodations.

Receiving a Job Offer

After an employer offers you the job, the employer might ask you disability-related questions and/or request a medical exam. This is okay as long as it is asked of all new employees in similar jobs. The employer may not take back the job offer because a medical exam reveals a disability.

If you accept the job offer, it is up to you to request reasonable accommodations if you are eligible for and need them.

Resources such as Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), Job Accommodation Network (JAN), and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can help determine the best accommodation for you.

For More Information

Contact the Hawaii Disability Rights Center:

Hawaii Disability Rights Center
900 Fort St., Suite 1040
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 949-2922 Voice/TDD
(808) 949-2928 Fax