In 1990, Congress created an important tool for individuals living with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, and contains a variety of rights for those individuals to help ensure they have an equal opportunity to enjoy public life. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly due to a disability, it may serve you well to discuss your situation with a discrimination matters lawyer. In the meantime, here are five important ways the ADA can benefit you:
- Employment Equality
- Government Services
- Public Accommodations
- Attorney’s Fees
Under the ADA’s employment protections, which apply to the vast majority of American employers, employees cannot be discriminated against because of their disabilities. This includes making “reasonable accommodations” for their disabilities, or minor changes to the way the employer traditionally conducts business, such as specialized equipment or a modified schedule. Additionally, accommodations can be made for employees with addiction issues who are actively participating in treatment. On the other hand, reasonable accommodations does not extend to making changes that would present a significant difficulty for the employer.
The ADA also prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs and services funded by the government. Because the government affects so many aspects of American life, there are a wide variety of ways this law is implemented. For example, city busses must be accessible to people in wheelchairs. Sign language interpreters need to be available to assist deaf clients in court. Police officers must be adequately trained and equipped to safely interact with, and if necessary arrest, disabled individuals with any of their specialized equipment. And one very common way this provision is implemented is for public school students with disabilities. Although many disabled students receive accommodations through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students who don’t qualify can receive accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act through a “504 Plan.”
In the same way the ADA prohibits discrimination in government services, it also prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in private places that are open to the public. This includes places like hotels, restaurants, theaters, and stores. When new buildings are designed and constructed, they must include features to make them accessible to the disabled community. Additionally, buildings that existed when the ADA was passed must make their spaces as accessible as possible without causing undue hardship or expense.
The ADA also requires that phone and other communications companies provide accessible service to individuals with disabilities. This includes services such as teletypewriters to assist deaf individuals with phone communications, as well as requiring closed captioning on television public service announcements.
Finally, one very important feature of the ADA is that it can require people or companies who discriminate against individuals with disabilities to pay that person’s attorney’s fees. This is designed to help every person who lives with disabilities have the ability to enforce the law, even if he or she can’t afford to bring an expensive lawsuit.
America is the land of equality, and the Americans with Disabilities Act is an important tool in maintaining that equality. Our firm’s attorneys specialize in representing clients with disabilities, and are experts in the ADA’s rights and protections. If you have a disability and are experiencing discrimination because of it, call us to arrange a free consultation.