Are There Laws to Protect People With Disabilities?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 26% of adults in America live with some kind of disability. This translates to 61 million adults. If you are one of them, you will be glad to know that numerous federal and state laws exist that protect your rights, mainly to be free of discrimination in the following areas:
- Access to public services
Americans with Disabilities Act
Perhaps the most known of the federal acts is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 that applies to discrimination in the workplace. Under this Act, employers are prohibited from discriminating against disabled people with respect to hiring practices, promotion practices, firing practices, and virtually all other issues relating to human resources. In addition, employers must make reasonable accommodation for your disability.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that Title II of the ADA covers public transportation services, including city buses and public rail transit. Per Title II, they must provide paratransit services for people who cannot independently use the regular transit systems.
Fair Housing Act
Per the Fair Housing Act of 1968, owners of rental and lease properties cannot discriminate against you based on your disability when you apply to live in one of their units. In other words, they must make their properties, including the common areas, as easily accessible to you as to able-bodied applicants.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applies to the programs conducted by federal agencies or that receive federal funding. It also applies to the employment practices of the federal government and federal contractors. As with the ADA, no such employer can discriminate against you on the basis of your disability. If you believe your employer is discriminating against you though, it may be in your best interest to speak with an employment discrimination lawyer such as Eric Siegel Law.
Air Carrier Access Act
When the U.S. Supreme Court held in 1986 that neither Title II of the ADA nor the Rehabilitation Act applied to commercial airlines, Congress remedied this situation by passing the Air Carrier Access Act later that year. This Act applies specifically to commercial airlines and guarantees that you will receive nondiscriminatory treatment whenever you travel by air.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
If your child has a disability, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 1975 and its 1990 amendments guarantee him or her a free public school education in the least restrictive environment his or her disability requires.
In addition to all these federal acts, virtually all states have their own disability laws that enhance or expand upon the guarantees contained in the various pieces of federal legislation.