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American Disabilities Act

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In nineteen ninety Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act. This act was established in order to eliminate discrimination of people with disabilities and to break down barriers in society that limits the freedom a disabled person. According to Section 2 Subsection A part one, "some 43,000,000 Americans have one or more physical or mental disabilities, and this number is increasing as the population as a whole is growing older." As the number suggests there are a lot of people that would be classified as disabled making this act very important. This paper will look at the Americans with Disabilities Act as how it pertains to helping people with disabilities based on who is covered, what are their rights, and what legal actions they have if they believe they have been discriminated against.

The Americans with Disabilities Act has four main section each with its own rights for the individual and what is required of society to help to better their life. The first section is Title I this section is designed to set forth rules for the employer when making decisions to hire, fire, promote, interview, or any other terms and conditions of employment. The next issue covered in Title I is who or how a person is to be classified as disabled. The Americans with Disabilities act has set forth some standards that must be made in order to meet the requirements of being disabled. A disabled person is defined as one who, "(i) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (ii) has a record of such an impairment; or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment." Examples of possible disabilities are "any physiological disorder, cosmetic disfigurements, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, skinÐ'... any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities." To better define what is meant by major life functions it includes any from seeing, hearing, walking, caring for oneself, performing a set task, basically things that one should be able to do if it where not for their disabilities. This act also covers people that are related too or associated with a person that has a disability from being discriminated against.

Now to how a person qualifies under the Americans with Disabilities Act and what their rights are. According to the ADA to be covered by the disabled person must have the qualifications or job requirements to perform the job. An employer has to be careful when going through a job interview or application because under the Americans with Disabilities Act they can not ask if the person is disabled. The only thing they can ask is if they can perform the job at hand. An employer can not ask the perspective employee to submit to a medical examination prior to making an offer. This is where it gets a little tricky because they only have to be able to do the essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodation. Essential job functions are those basic tasks that an employee must be able to do. Reasonable accommodation becomes a case by case issue. For example if we are talking about a small privately owned store what is reasonable in monetary amounts would be different then a multimillion-dollar corporation. Examples of reasonable accommodation would be job restructuring, modifying work schedules, providing readers, modifying or offering equipment to help. The idea is to try to alter the work environment to make it easier for the disabled person to perform the job asked of them. This law does not mean that a company must accommodate if that by doing so would cause undue hardship to the business. Undue hardship is defined as "an action requiring significant difficulty or expense." This is one exception to Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act another is that the law does not give any priority to a disabled person over a better qualified person as long as the decision to hire is based on reasons unrelated to the disability. To file a complaint under Title I of the ADA the person bring the complaint must contact the EEOC. It has to be filed within one hundred and eighty days of the act of discrimination. It will be handled in the same manner as charges filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If the plaintiff wins they are entitled to any economic loss because of the discrimination, attorney fees, then have reasonable accommodations put in place, and punitive damages.

Title II deals with public entities and transportation which includes state and local governments. This includes all activities offered by the state and local government such as town meetings, courts, and motor vehicle licensing. Under the ADA state and local government must follow the following rules: "1. They cannot deny a disabled person from participating in a service, program, or activity. 2. They must provide equal opportunity for those disabled to be involved in an activity or program. 3. They have to eliminate rules or standard that may unintentionally discriminate against those with disabilities unless it is based on safety. 4. They are required to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures that deny equal access to individuals with disabilities, unless fundamental alterations to the program would result. 5. They must provide auxiliary aids and services when necessary to ensure effective communication. 6. They may not assess special charges on individual with disabilities to cover the costs of measures necessary to ensure nondiscriminatory treatment. 7. They must operate their programs so that, when viewed in their entirety, they readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities." To be qualified under Title II a person must meet the eligibility requirements of that program or activity. Also under Title II state and local governments are required to have a facility that is accessible to those with disabilities. There are some exceptions to this being that if the changes would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the service or program or put undue financial requirements on the program. It is very much like Title I that they have to try their best to allow a person with a disability to be involved as long as it does not cause too much financial dedication. Title II cannot make existing buildings always change to meet the necessary requirements it can and does set high standards for new construction. It requires that when building a new structure they have to meet either The Uniform Federal Accessibility Standard or the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. This way it preemptively protects those



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