Demystifying the Law: The Americans With Disabilities Act
If you have a disability, or know someone who’s disabled, you’re probably familiar with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Today’s blog attempts to demystify the topic.
What is a Disability
From the US Department of Justice here’s what’s needed for ADA coverage:
To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.
Wow. That’s a mouthful. Basically, you may need a doctor’s help to back up your claim your ability to to see, hear, walk, stand, sit, breathe or perform manual labor gets in the way of leading an active life.
What Does the ADA Do?
The ADA is a federal law protecting people with disabilities from discrimination in a variety of circumstances. It covers discrimination in:
- Government services
- Publicly accessible areas
Following the ADA
Currently, the ADA applies to:
- Employers with 15 or more employees
- All governments, regardless of size: Access to government buildings, programming, services and activities, as well as equal access to schools, recreation centers and polling places
- Public transportation, such as city buses and trains, and private transportation, such as commercial airlines
- Public access, including businesses open to the public, such as hotels, stores, restaurants, doctors’ offices, sports arenas and movie theaters
- Phone and TV providers: Phone companies have to provide telecommunications relay services (TRS) for people with speech or hearing problems, and TV channels must provide some closed captioning for those with hearing problems
What Is Reasonable Accommodation?
Employers must make reasonable accommodations allowing a disabled employee to perform essential job activities. These might include adjusting a work schedule, providing modified technology helping the person do his job or adapting the workplace so it’s accessible for the employee.
It’s important to note there’s an emphasis on reasonable when it comes to accommodations for a disabled employee or job applicant. Employers don’t have to make changes causing extreme hardship on the employer.
ADA Updates over the Years
The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) went into effect on Jan. 1, 2009. Key changes under the ADAAA are:
- Stressing and refining the definition of "disability"
- Expanding the definition of major life activities. The law now mentions reading, bending and communicating as major life activities
- Clearing up that helpful attempts at easing a disability don’t count when deciding if a disability exists. A person’s use of medication or having a special diet doesn’t change his disability status.
What Can You Do If You’ve Been Discriminated against under the ADA?
To make an ADA claim, you should file an action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The action must be filed within 180 days of the date the biased act happened.
Usually the EEOC will issue a right to sue letter allowing you to file a federal court lawsuit. In some cases, the EEOC files its own suit if it finds reasonable cause.
If you’ve been discriminated against at work, you may be able to recover back pay, reinstatement, future pay or future pay changes, a reasonable accommodation or other relief. If you were applying for a job and were not hired, the employer may be required to hire you.
If you’ve been discriminated against in access to government programs or public places, you may be able to have access to a building altered or access to participation in a government program changed to allow your participation.
An attorney with experience in ADA claims can help you understand your legal options under the ADA.
- Learn more about your legal issue on Lawyers.com
- Find an Americans with Disabilities Act lawyer on Lawyers.com
- Discuss your issue on our discrimination legal forum
- Lawyers.com Suggested Legal Books
- Did this article help you? If so, please consider sharing it with your friends and encourage them to become a fan of Lawyers.com on Facebook. Or follow us on Twitter to retweet to your friends/followers.