ABCs of Employment Law: Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) plays a very important role in preventing discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. This includes jobs, schools, transportation, and all other places open to the general public. Our attorneys are here with information about the ins and outs of the Americans with Disabilities Act, who it covers, and the changes to the ADA created through the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) passed in 2008.

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act first became a law in 1990. At its core, the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to government funded programs and services. The purpose of the ADA is to ensure that disabled individuals have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

Who is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The ADA protects all individuals who meet the ADA’s definition of disability. As defined by the ADA, an individual can be considered disabled if he or she has a physical/mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities, if he or she has a record of such an impairment, or if he or she is regarded as having such an impairment.

What does an ADA claim look like?

Most commonly, our attorneys handle cases where an individual was terminated because of a disability. Frequently, the terminations are the result of failures to accommodate, meaning that the person had work restrictions because of a disability and the company refused to work with the person to keep them employed. If you are experiencing difficulties obtaining accommodations from your employer, or if you believe you were terminated because of your disability or for reasons related to your disability, you should contact our attorneys.

The five amendments of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008

The ADAAA passed to help broaden the definition of disability which had been narrowed by past Supreme Court decisions. The five titles of the ADAAA are as follows:

  1. Employment (Title I): Title I requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to all disabled employees. Reasonable accommodation can include altering worksites to be accessible, providing interpreter services, modifying work schedules, and more. The ADAAA expanded the scope of “disability” under the ADA. As a result, people are more likely to meet the definition of “disability” than prior to the ADAAA.
  2. Public Services (Title II): Title II states that people with disabilities cannot be denied the right to participate in programs or activities that are available to people who aren’t disabled, and that public services, such as transportation, must be made accessible for the disabled.
  3. Public Accommodations (Title III): Title III requires public spaces including restaurants and hotels to be modified to be accessible for persons with disabilities. This means that all barriers to services in existing facilities must be removed to make the space accessible for all.
  4. Telecommunications (Title IV): Companies offering telephone service to the public must have telephone relay services for deaf individuals using TTYs or similar devices.
  5. Miscellaneous (Title V): Title V includes a provision prohibiting coercion or retaliation against individuals with disabilities or those aiding people with disabilities in asserting their ADA rights.

Do you have questions regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act that we haven’t addressed? The attorneys at Walcheske & Luzi are here to help you better understand your individual rights and employer obligations and responsibilities. Fill out our contact form and one of our attorneys will be in touch!