As with all other protected classes (e.g. race, gender, age), hiring criteria that have a disparate impact on those with disabilities are only allowed only if job-related and necessary.
In the specific scenario referenced in the letter, the EEOC states that "Under the ADA, a qualification standard, test, or other selection criterion, such as a high school diploma requirement, that screens out an individual or a class of individuals on the basis of a disability must be job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity. A qualification standard is job related and consistent with business necessity if it accurately measures the ability to perform the job’s essential functions (i.e. its fundamental duties)."
According to the EEOC, the main difference under the ADA (compared to other anti-discrimination laws) is, "Even where a challenged qualification standard, test, or other selection criterion is job related and consistent with business necessity, if it screens out an individual on the basis of disability, an employer must also demonstrate that the standard or criterion cannot be met, and the job cannot be performed, with a reasonable accommodation."
Employers should review their hiring criteria and determine whether each job requirement is necessary for the job to be done properly and eliminate those job requirements that are not necessary.
For more information on how this may affect you, please contact client services.