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. It guarantees that disabled people have equal access to employment, public services, such as transportation and voting, and public places, such as restaurants, stores, hotels, airports, and public buildings. The goal of the ADA is for everyone with a disability to be able to live a life of equality.

The first section of the ADA (often called Title I) applies to employment. It makes it illegal to discriminate against qualified jobseekers or employees with disabilities, and requires most employers to supply reasonable accommodations to jobseekers and employees with disabilities, unless the accommodation would cause an undue hardship to the business. The law applies to all stages of employment, including the job application process, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and work-related events. In Missouri, the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) also protects people with disabilities.

This article will explain the process of making sure your needs are met and your rights are respected when you look for a job, apply for a job, or get a job. This process may include disclosing your disability, requesting reasonable accommodations, negotiating your reasonable accommodations, and taking action if you feel discriminated against.

Not all employers are covered by these laws, but most are

The ADA only covers employers with 15 or more employees, while the MHRA covers employers with 6 or more employees. Both laws apply to private employers, state and local governments, and employment agencies. The ADA does not apply to tax-exempt private membership clubs or the federal government. However, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is another law that is almost identical to the ADA and does apply to federal agencies.

The bottom line: If you work for an employer with 6 or more employees, your job is probably protected by one of these laws. If your employer has fewer than 6 employees, you may still be protected by these laws in some ways, depending on your situation.

Agencies That Can Help You

Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services (MO P&A) offer services to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities in Missouri. MO P&A supplies information and legal help related to the ADA and the MHRA.

The Great Plains ADA Center supplies information, technical assistance, and training on the ADA and related disability laws to individuals, families, and organizations.

Discrimination

If you are treated unequally or worse than other people because of your disability, you are being discriminated against. Here are a few examples of how you could be discriminated against at your job:

  • You are denied a job or a promotion because of a disability; or you are paid less than other nondisabled coworkers doing the same or similar work.
  • Your employer uses a practice or system that means that you or others with similar disabilities can’t get jobs or opportunities because of your disabilities, and the practice or system is not justified by the needs of the business.
  • You were denied a reasonable accommodation that was necessary to perform your job because the employer did not want to spend money on accommodations.
  • You face coercion (which means forcing you to do something against your will), intimidation (which means frightening or bullying you), or interference (which means hindering you) from enjoying the same privileges and benefits of employment because you asked for your rights under the ADA or participated in the procedures under the ADA for investigating and addressing discrimination.

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 Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR). You must file your complaint within 300 days of the date the discrimination took place if you file with the EEOC or within 180 days if you file with the MCHR.