The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights act that provides equal opportunity under the law for Americans suffering from disabilities. The ADA act covers individuals suffering from mental and physical impairments. Signed into law in 1990, amendments to the act became law in 2009 and they broadened the group of people qualifying as disabled.
The ADA is broken up into five different categories, called titles. Under Title I of the disabilities act employers cannot discriminate against an employee or potential employee due to disability. Meaning employers are prohibited from hiring, firing, promoting, compensating, and training employees based on their disabilities.
Title I applies specifically to businesses that employ 15 or more individuals. Though a business is not required to hire an applicant with a disability, they cannot discriminate against an individual who has the education and ability to complete the job because of their disability. Employers are also required to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are defined on an individual basis but could include a different training method or equipment needed by a disabled employee in order to complete job functions.
Title II of the disabilities act is targeted towards state and local governments to ensure that all services are accessible to disabled individuals. Title III is designed to protect the ability for disabled individuals to access public accommodations including restaurants, movie theaters, hotels, libraries, and other places that serve the public.
Transportation is covered under Titles II and III of the ADA. Those suffering from speech impairments and deaf or hard of hearing are covered under Title IIII. Title IIII makes provisions for telecommunications, such as the use of relay telephone services for deaf individuals. Title V covers miscellaneous information including a provision protecting disabled individuals against retaliation or discrimination for asserting their rights.
Since its passage, the ADA has helped to enrich the quality of life for millions of disabled Americans. However, it has received a lot of criticism from those who feel the act has made employees afraid of facing litigation avoid hiring the disabled. Business owners have also complained about 'professional plaintiffs,' individuals who sue multiple businesses alleging discrimination to win monetary damages. Another common criticism is the complaints procedure, though individuals can file a complaint with the government agency enforcing a rule, the manpower to investigate all these complaints is not available.
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