The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law
in 1990. It is considered the civil
rights acts for persons with disabilities.
It is modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973. There are five titles to
the ADA act. Title I of the act covers employment and Title V covers such
subjects as retaliation:
- Title I: Employment -- Businesses must provide reasonable accommodations in all aspects of employment to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. This covers employers with 15 or more employees, includes local, state, and federal governments in addition to employment agencies and labor organizations. Employment issues are enforced by the EEOC.
- Title V: Miscellaneous-- This title includes a provision prohibiting coercing, threatening, or retaliating against individuals with disabilities or those assisting them in asserting their rights under the ADA. The title also authorizes the payment of attorney’s fees for successful litigants.
How is Disability Defined?
A disability is defined by the ADA as "A physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities; or a record of such impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment. The 2008 amendments to the ADA that became effective in January of 2009 broaden the definition of disability reversing some case law, which had restricted the definition in the recent past.
What to Do if You are Wrongfully Terminated
If you are terminated or are about to be terminated because of your disability you should:
- Not take any negative or destructive acts against your employer
- Familiarize yourself with the terms of your employment contract if you have one
- Inquire about the reasons for your discharge and get them in writing if possible
- Return any company property and follow all post employment procedures
- Review your personnel file
- Request and negotiate a severance package if appropriate, and get it in writing
- Find out if possible who made the decision to hire you
- Consult a lawyer specializing in employment or disability law
Do You Need a Lawyer?
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is not difficult to understand, the implementation of the law can be confusing and complicated. The broad definition of disability may give you an actionable claim that you may not realize. If you feel you have been wrongfully terminated, consult a lawyer who specializes in disability or employment law. They can advise you on the strength or weakness of your case, give you information about what you need to prove your case. The ADA allows for the payment of attorney’s fees. There are also agencies in every state that are mandated to protect and advocate on the behalf of disabled persons.
The Americans with Disabilities Act and its amendments is considered the civil rights law for disabled population in the United States. It is illegal to terminate a disabled person because they asked for accommodations for their disability or attempted to pursue their rights in any other fashion. Successful litigants are entitled to attorney’s fees.