Published September, 2014

How to Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act: A Guide for Restaurants and Other Food Service Employers, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2011)

This is a compilation of explanations and answers to frequently asked questions that outline how food service employers can avoid liability by staying in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). It explains those ADA employment rules relevant to the food service industry. The guide also provides basic information about the ADA and expounds on the relationship between the ADA and the FDA Food Code. The report concludes with a discussion of the ADA’s rules that prohibit employment discrimination against qualified people with disabilities.

In general, a food service employer may not take away a conditional job offer made to a person living with HIV, or to any other person for disability-related reasons, if the person can do the job safely or if there is a reasonable accommodation that will enable him to do the job without posing a direct threat to the health or safety of himself or others in the workplace. Additionally, employers may not ask about an applicant's medical condition or require a medical exam until after deciding that the person has the necessary job skills and making a conditional job offer. Questions prior to a job offer should focus on ability to do the job.

Food service employers may ask the applicant if she can do the job, to describe her skills and experience, or about gaps in employment and education. Employers, however, cannot ask an applicant during the job interview about her health and about diseases, even those transmissible through food. Questions regarding symptoms and diseases transmissible through food may be asked only after a conditional job offer has been made, but the employer must treat all applicants in the same job category alike.