Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that makes it illegal to discriminate against (treat unfairly or unequally) people with disabilities in all areas of employment. It also guarantees that disabled people have equal access to public services, such as transportation and voting, and equal access to public places, such as restaurants, stores, hotels, airports, and public buildings. The goal of the ADA is for everyone with a disability to be able to live a life of freedom and equality.

The first section of the ADA (often called Title I) applies to employment. It makes it illegal to discriminate against qualified jobseekers or employees with disabilities, and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to jobseekers and employees with disabilities, unless the accommodation would result in undue hardship to the business. The law applies to all stages of employment, including the job application process, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and work-related events.

Note: The ADA does not apply to tax-exempt private membership clubs or the United States federal government. However, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (PDF) applies to federal agencies and is nearly identical to the ADA, making it illegal to discriminate against job applicants and employees with disabilities. The ADA does not apply to businesses owned and operated by Indian tribes. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act may apply in situations when tribal employers accept federal financial assistance, as well as in cases when tribal laws have been adopted which are similar to the ADA.

The process of making sure your needs are met when you are looking for work, applying for jobs, and after you get a job is of importance to anyone living with a disability. The more you know about this process, the easier it can become to apply ADA and other civil rights protections to your situation.

This process may include disclosing your disability, requesting reasonable accommodations, negotiating your reasonable accommodation, and taking action if you feel discriminated against.

Agencies that Help You

The Arizona Center for Disability Law is a federally designated Protection and Advocacy System for the State of Arizona. Protection and Advocacy Systems are services that make sure the civil rights of persons with disabilities in Arizona are protected. To accomplish this, Center staff provide technical assistance statewide about the legal provisions of the ADA.

For state employees in Arizona, the Arizona Office of Americans with Disabilities (AOAD) also helps to assure that these employees with disabilities have equal opportunity in all aspects of life -- full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.

For added details about the ADA and the legal rights it guarantees, see DB101's Know Your Rights and Responsibilities article.

Discrimination

If you are treated worse than other people, or unequally, because of your disability, you are being discriminated against. Disability discrimination can include being denied a necessary reasonable accommodation during hiring, when you are performing your job duties or meeting a job standard, or participating in job benefits. Here are a few examples of how you could be discriminated against at your job:

  • You are denied a job or a promotion because of a disability, or are paid less than other nondisabled coworkers doing the same or similar job.
  • Your employer uses a practice or a system that has the effect of screening you or a group of people with similar disabilities from jobs or opportunities because of disability, and it is not justified by the needs of the business.
  • You were denied a reasonable accommodation that was necessary to perform your job because the employer did not want to spend money on accommodations.
  • You face coercion, intimidation, or interference from enjoying the same privileges and benefits of employment because you asked for your rights under the ADA, or participated in the procedures under the ADA for investigating and addressing discrimination.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your disability, you can file a complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Arizona Attorney General’s Office-Civil Rights Division (ACRD). To learn more about how to file a complaint or lawsuit, read DB10's Know Your Rights and Responsibilities article.