After 30 years, the ADA is still protecting disabled workers’ rights

Few pieces of legislation are remembered decades after enactment. Along with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Clean Air Act of 1970 and 1965’s Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is remembered for changing the course of history.

Signed on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, the ADA transformed America by requiring schools, government buildings and businesses to have ramps, elevators, designated parking, curb cuts and more that enable people with disabilities to have access to places, services and goods available to everyone else.

The ADA has done much more than remove physical barriers, however. The landmark civil rights law also prohibits employers from discriminating against workers and job applicants with disabilities in hiring, firing, pay, promotions, training, scheduling and all other aspects of employment.

The ADA requires businesses to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, as long as the accommodations don’t cause undue hardships on the employer.

Examples of accommodations include:

  • Modifications to desks and equipment (such as computers) to make them usable by disabled employees
  • Restructuring schedules
  • Modifying training
  • Providing a reasonable amount of unpaid leave to allow for medical treatments

Of course, many other accommodations are possible.

It should be noted that the ADA applies to businesses with 15 or more employees.

According to the federal government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you’re protected by the law “if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA also protects you if you have a history of such a disability, or if an employer believes that you have such a disability, even if you don’t.”

The ADA is living law, meaning that even after 30 years, the ADA is used every day by employees with disabilities to protect their rights in the workplace. If you have suffered discrimination on the basis of disability in Milwaukee, contact the law office of Alan C. Olson and Associates.


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