Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that makes it illegal to discriminate against (treat unfairly or unequally) people with disabilities in all aspects of employment. It also guarantees that disabled people have access to public services, such as transportation and voting, and to public places, such as restaurants, stores, hotels, and other types of buildings. The goal of the ADA is for everyone with a disability to live a life of freedom and equality.

The first section of the ADA (often called Title I) applies to employment. It makes it illegal to discriminate against qualified jobseekers and employees with disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to jobseekers and employees with disabilities, unless they would result in undue hardship to the business. The law applies to all aspects of this employment, including the job application process, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and work-related events. In Minnesota, the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) also protects people with disabilities. There are only minor differences between the ADA and the MHRA.

Both the ADA and MHRA apply to private employers with 15 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor organizations. The ADA does not apply to tax-exempt private membership clubs or the United States federal government. However, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applies to federal agencies and is almost identical to the ADA. It also makes it illegal to discriminate against job applicants and employees with disabilities.

The rest of this article will talk about the process of making sure your needs are met when you are looking for work, applying for jobs, and after you get a job. This process may include disclosing your disability, requesting reasonable accommodations, negotiating your reasonable accommodation, and what to do if you feel discriminated against. If you want more details about the ADA and the legal rights it guarantees, see DB101's article Know Your Rights and Responsibilities.

Discrimination

If you are treated worse or unequally because of your disability, you are being discriminated against. The ADA makes discrimination illegal. Here are a few examples of how you could be discriminated against at your job:

  • You could be intentionally denied opportunities or benefits, like a job, a promotion, or a competitive salary.
  • You could be unintentionally denied these opportunities or benefits, because your employer uses a practice or a system that is not justified by the needs of the business.
  • You could face coercion, intimidation, harassment, or interference from enjoying the same privileges and benefits of employment that others receive.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your disability, you can file a complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR). To learn more about how to file a complaint or lawsuit, see Know Your Rights and Responsibilities.