28 Years Later: The Americans with Disabilities Act

Your Rights at WorkOn this day 28 years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect.  This milestone piece of legislation was a step toward equality in our schools, public spaces, and workplaces.   All people should have the opportunity to get a quality education and make a living for themselves. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, whether in employment or access to public services.  The ADA covers all levels of government, employment agencies and private employers with 15 or more employees.  The ADA requires “reasonable accommodation” to enable a person to apply to or perform the duties of his or her job; however, the employer is exempted from this if the accommodation imposes “undue hardship”.

In 2008 Congress undertook to expand the ADA after several years of judicial decisions narrowing the scope of the ADA.  On January 1, 2009 the ADAAA, the ADA Amendments Act, became effective.  These amendments changed the definition of “disability”, to make it easier for people seeking protection under the Act.  The Amendments Act also expanded the definition of “major life activities” to include episodic impairment and remission. 

We all deserve to be included and fully participate in our community and society as a whole.  An illness, injury or impairment should not impede our economic, social or civil rights.