The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

How Does the ADA Define Disability

The ADA applies to persons who either actually have, or are thought to have, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits what the ADA calls a “major life activity.” Major life activities are the basic components of any person’s life including walking, talking, seeing and learning.
If a person has an impairment that substantially limits his or her ability to perform one or more of the above activities, that person is considered disabled under the ADA.

The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered, but common examples of disabilities include:

  • Confinement to a wheelchair
  • Reliance on assistive devices such as canes and walkers, blindness, deafness, a learning disability, and certain kinds of mental illness.

ADA Title I: Employment Requirements

Title I of the ADA requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities available to others.

Title I of the ADA:

  • Prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities and other privileges of employment
  • Restricts questions that can be asked about an applicant’s disability before a job offer is made
  • Requires that employers make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship

How to File a Complaint with the EEOC

Title I complaints must be filed with the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the date of discrimination, or 300 days if the charge is filed with a designated state or local fair employment practice agency. Individuals may file a lawsuit in federal court only after they receive a “right-to-sue” letter from the EEOC.

Charges of employment discrimination on the basis of disability may be filed at any EEOC field office. Field offices are located in 50 cities throughout the U.S. and are listed in most telephone directories under “U.S. Government” or at http://www.eeoc.gov/field/index.cfm