The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the first federal law guaranteeing that people with disabilities have the same opportunities and options to participate in all areas of life as non-disabled persons. It was modeled on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it protects all those with mental or physical disabilities, or those perceived to have disabilities, that limit them in some way. These disabilities may include mental disabilities, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses or conditions.
Who has to follow the ADA?
In the United States, the state and local governments must follow all federal laws and meet the minimum as set out by those laws. Every state is free to do more than the minimum, but they’re not free to do any less. Private and public entities in all states must follow the rules in the ADA.
What is unlawful discrimination against the disabled?
Discrimination against the disabled is specifically barring them access to the things everyone else can access for the sole or main reason that the person is disabled. For example, not hiring an otherwise qualified and capable lawyer because he has cerebral palsy is discrimination.
The disabled have the legal right to fair access to public accommodations, education, transportation, communication, recreation, housing, health services, voting, and to public services, and to do so free of harassment or other negative behavior targeting them for their disability. For example, a restaurant hires a developmentally disabled dishwasher but takes advantage of her disability by tricking her into thinking she can’t take her federally required breaks.