The Basics Of Disability Discrimination Law

27 June 2019
 Categories: Law, Blog


The feeling that you've been discriminated against due to a disability can be worrying, especially if the discrimination gets in the way of work, education, and other activities that are important to you. In the U.S., there are several federal laws that prohibit such conduct. Depending on the state you live in, there may also be additional protections at that level. The big one, however, is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Major Life Activities

One of the defining concepts of the ADA is "major life activities." Disabilities come in a variety of forms, and Congress decided to use this broad term rather than enumerate every single possible form of discrimination. Broadly speaking, a disability is something that influences a basic part of your life, such as speech, mobility, sight, hearing, and learning. The broad definition ensures that protections are assigned to individuals who have issues that might not have been understood by medicine or society at the time of the passage of the ADA.

Organizations the ADA Applies To

All employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from discriminating during the hiring process. Likewise, they cannot discriminate during training, promoting ,or evaluating employees. Similar concerns are addressed in dealing with education institutions, transportation companies, and businesses open to the public.

Virtually all organizations that take federal money are covered by the ADA. Similarly, state and local governments and their designees are required to comply with the ADA.

Undue Hardship

The exception to anti-discrimination laws' limits is what's known as undue hardship. This is often where the challenge of sorting out a discrimination case occurs, and this is also where many people decide to get in touch with a disability discrimination attorney.

As is the case with the definition of disability itself, undue hardship is also broadly proscribed for the sake of reasonableness. For example, it would difficult for an individual with mobility issues to pursue a claim regarding hiring as a firefighter. This would place an undue hardship on the fire department.

Advancing a Claim

Complaints have to be filed with 180 days of the initial discriminatory act, and many people seek the help of a disability discrimination attorney. Employment complaints should be filed with the EEOC. Complaints against state and local governments should be filed with the Department of Justice. Transportation complaints are directed to the Federal Transit Administration, and education complaints are investigated by the Department of Education.