Creating ADA Compliant Job Descriptions

Creating ADA Compliant Job Descriptions

Bruce Johanson, Principal Partner - DBSquared & Johanson Group

In today's times, organizations are being required to implement better employee-related programs and documentation due to changes in existing laws and regulations and recently passed new legislation. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and their recent amendments plus the new Lilly Ledbetter law are causing organizations to move the priority of creating and maintaining job descriptions from the back burner to the front burner. The ADA is the main piece of legislation impacting the precedence of job descriptions due to the fact that any organization, without exception, with 15 or more employees is required to have a listing of duties, skills and job requirements for each current position. The law does not specify that each listing be classified as a job description, but if you are audited by an outside government agency such as the EEOC or the OFCCP, they will ask to see your job descriptions.

Having been in Human Resources for over 30 years, I believe the benefits of creating and maintaining comprehensive and accurate job descriptions go well beyond the current legal requirements. These benefits include:

  • Provide a general guideline of a job/position
  • Parts can be used to create an internal job posting or external posting/ad
  • Utilized as a basis to ask questions during interviews
  • Ability to review job descriptions as a part of the on-boarding/orientation process
  • Offer a means to compare an individual's actual performance to the job description
  • Used to differentiate one position over another - job value/rating and compensation level
  • Allow employees to describe their job in a written format; clear up any misunderstandings

The main components of a job description include:

Basics - Organization Name, Position Title, Department, Supervisor's Title, Date, Physical Location and

Exempt/Non-Exempt Classification.

Purpose Statement - One sentence to a couple of paragraphs describing the overall main responsibility and accountability of the position.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities - Core or main aspects of the position (usually 10 to 15) and the last one should state "Any other task or duty as assigned or required". It answers the question of what are the position's accountabilities and duties are that get done on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and irregular basis.

Knowledge and Skill Requirements - The minimum level of education, work related experience, certificates, licenses and/or registrations; any required language, communications, math, critical thinking, mental demand, problem solving, equipment/computer usage, etc. necessary to be successful in the position.

Physical Demands and Work Environment - This includes the physical aspects (walk, talk, sit, stand, touch, climb, lift, sight, etc.) of the position and the environment (normal office, warehouse, elevated, hazardous, potential exposures, etc.) that the position operates in.

The normal process to complete an ADA Compliant job description is as follows:
1. Employee completes a blank position analysis questionnaire (PAQ)
2. Completed questionnaire is reviewed and revised by supervisor/manager
3. Final review is completed by the HR group for objectivity, accuracy and compliance

Fortunately, the process to complete an ADA Compliant job description has just gotten easier with the software release of DBDescriptions. The web-based program is a very efficient and cost effective approach to creating job descriptions in minutes. You can visit to learn more and start the process of creating and maintaining ADA Compliant job descriptions.