Enacted in 1990, the ADA is a federal civil rights law that protects the disabled. The law protects the disabled in the areas of employment, government programs, and access to businesses, housing, transportation, and telecommunications.
Title I - Employment
Title I applies to employers with 15 or more employees and covers the areas of recruiting, hiring, promotion, training, payment, and other employment privileges. Title I restricts what questions a potential employer may ask of a disabled individual and governs the right of a disabled employee to seek a reasonable accommodation of his disability if no undue hardship would result.
A reasonable accommodation is a modification to the workplace or employment position that allows a disabled individual, who is otherwise qualified, to perform the functions of a job. Reasonable accommodation may apply to a job's duties, when and where a job is performed, and how job duties are performed.
A Title I complaint must be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") within 180 days of the alleged discrimination. The EEOC may pursue litigation on the disabled individual's behalf. A person may bring a private suit for violation of Title I only after the EEOC issues a right-to-sue letter.
Title II - State and Local Government Programs and Activities
Title II applies to local and state governments. Title II applies to entities without regard to their size or whether they receive federal funding. Title II requires governmental entities to provide equal access to government programs, activities, transportation, services, employment, access to court, and social services. Governmental entities are also required to follow architectural standards for new and altered government buildings. A governmental entity must provide access in older inaccessible buildings and provide a means of communication for individuals are hearing, vision, or speech-impaired.
Title II also requires governments to provide access to individuals in the area of transportation, including buses, trains, and public transit.
Reasonable Modification / Undue Burden or Fundamental Alteration
A governmental entity must provide a reasonable modification of its policies and programs to accommodate disabled individuals, but it need not provide an accommodation that is unreasonable, i.e., one that results in an undue financial or administrative burden or fundamentally alters the program, service, or activity.
A complaint for a Title II violation must be made to the Department of Justice ("DOJ") within 180 days of the event giving rise to the alleged discrimination. The DOJ may pursue litigation or refer the parties to mediation. The DOJ does not issue a right-to-sue to private individuals.
Title III - Access to Public Accommodations/Businesses
Title III applies to places of public accommodations, such as restaurants, retail businesses, doctor offices, movie theatres, accreditation and licensing entities, and others. A public accommodation may not discriminate against a disabled individual by excluding, segregating, or providing unequal treatment. Title III requires businesses to comply with architectural standards for new and altered buildings. Architectural barriers in older buildings must be removed if removal would not create an undue burden.
As well, a place of public accommodation must provide a reasonable modification of its policies or procedures to the disabled and provide a means to effectively communicate with individuals who suffer from hearing, vision, or speech difficulties.
A complaint for Title III discrimination may be made to the DOJ. As in Title II cases, the DOJ may pursue litigation or refer the parties to mediation. The DOJ does not issue right-to-sue letters.
The ADA guarantees a disabled individual to be treated equally in the areas of employment, government programs, and access to business, transportation, and telecommunications.