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American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Definition - What does American with Disabilities Act (ADA) mean?

Passed in 1990 by the United States Congress, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals who have disabilities. Four agencies enforce the legislation including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Labor, The Department of Transportation, The Department of Justice, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

What does the Americans with Disabilities Act do?

The Americans with Disabilities Act specifically focuses on eliminating discrimination in employment, transportation, schools, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. The Act is separated into five sections, each section addressing a different area of public life (Employment, State and Local Government, Public Accommodation, Telecommunications, and Misc.).

Purpose of Title I

The goal of Title I is to help the disabled employees have equal access to employment opportunities as those applicants and employees who are not disabled. Title I and Personal Injury (Employment) Discrimination injury employment claims are generally filed because an employer has violated Title I of the American with Disabilities Act. Under the Act, employers are required to provide “reasonable accommodation” to disabled employees if the employer is able to do so without “undue hardship,” which can include effort and expense.

The ADA does not apply to all employers. As of 1994, it covers private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions who employ 15 or more employees. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for regulating and enforcing Title I of the ADA.

Filing an Injury Claim under the ADA

Claimants who have been discriminated against by their employer due to their disability and believe their employer has violated the American with Disabilities Act must first contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Office and file a complaint. All complaints must be received by the EEOC within 180 days from the date of the alleged action.

The EEOC will investigate the injured party’s complaint and will either intervene with the employer, dismiss the claim, or give the worker a "right to sue" letter. The right to sue letter permits the employee to sue the employer directly.

Can I file a personal lawsuit against my employer?

If the EEOC’s actions and direct communications with the employer have not resolved the issues, the employee may file suit against the employer. All claims must be filed within 90 days of receiving the right to sue letter.

If the employee wins their claim of discrimination they may be entitled to receive compensation for their injury, including the right to employment, back pay, or other compensatory and punitive damages.

Will the EEOC file a claim under ADA?

In some select cases, the EEOC may decide to file an employment discrimination lawsuit against the employer. Factors the EEOC will consider prior to filing a claim include:

  • The legal issues involved
  • Whether the claim would impact a wide range of employers
  • The severity of the discriminatory violation

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