The Americans with Disabilities Act
Apr 27, 2011 QuickCounsel Download PDF
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. It was amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which overturned the U.S. Supreme Court and lower court decisions that had construed certain ADA provisions narrowly. The amendments effectively shifted the focus of ADA compliance from whether an individual has a disability to whether the employer has provided reasonable accommodation to disabled applicants and employees.
The ADA prohibits employers from:
The ADA also requires employers to make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities.
The ADA generally applies to:
Complaints regarding the ADA may be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or designated state human-rights agencies. Individuals may also bring private lawsuits or file complaints with the Attorney General, who can in turn bring lawsuits in cases of general public importance or for alleged "pattern and practice" discrimination.
Remedies for violations include hiring, reinstatement, promotion, back pay, front pay, restored benefits, reasonable accommodation, attorneys' fees, expert-witness fees, court costs, court orders and civil penalties. Civil penalties may be up to $55,000 for a first violation or $110,000 for each subsequent violation. Intentional discrimination or an employer's lack of good-faith effort to comply may warrant compensatory and punitive damages.
ADA Amendments Act
The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) was signed into law on September 25, 2008, and became effective on January 1, 2009.
The EEOC voted to approve a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to conform its ADA regulations to the ADAAA on September 16, 2009.The proposed regulations were published in the Federal Register on September 23, 2009.
Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the ADA last July, Attorney General Eric Holder signed final regulations substantially revising the Department of Justice’s Title III regulations. The changes adopted by these new regulations add a comprehensive set of new accessibility requirements which generally mandate a higher level of access for individuals than the standards contained in the 1991 regulations.
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