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Dyslexia and the ADA: Don’t Screen for Disability

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Q. Is dyslexia considered a disability under the ADA? Can we legally screen potential employees for it through our pre-employment tests? —F.D., Ohio

A. If the dyslexia is severe, it may indeed be a protected disability under the ADA. Several federal courts have said so. Reason: ADA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Learning and reading are among major life activities that dyslexia can affect.

As a result, stay away from prehire testing for dyslexia. You should never use tests designed to identify a particular condition. Instead, use tests to determine only the applicant's ability to perform the essential—not marginal—functions of the job.

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