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Frequently Asked Questions
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
What is the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination and provides for equal access and opportunity. Former President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law on July 26, 1990.
The ADA applies to situations in these five areas:
- Employment [Title I]
- State and local government [Title II]
- Public accommodations (private businesses) [Title III]
- Telecommunications [Title IV]
- Transportation and miscellaneous provisions [Title V]
Definition of Disability under the ADA
The ADA prohibits discrimination against any qualified individual with a disability. Specifically, the ADA protects three categories of individuals:
- Individuals who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.
- Individuals who have a record of a physical or mental impairment.
- Individuals who are regarded as having an impairment, whether they have an impairment or not.
The ADA does not include a list of covered disabilities under the law. Therefore, to determine if you are covered under the law, you need to determine if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.
The definition of disability does not include simple physical characteristics, common personality traits, or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantages.
The ADA also excludes coverage for individuals who currently use illegal drugs, certain sexual disorders and preferences, and compulsive gambling, kleptomania, and pyromania.
ADA FAQs by Audience
- Individual/Advocate FAQs on the ADA
- Architecture/Design FAQs on the ADA
- Business FAQs on the ADA
- Employers FAQs on the ADA
- Government FAQs on the ADA
- Vocational Rehabilitation FAQs on the ADA
Is there a conflict between the FMLA provision allowing employers to ask for certification that an employee have a serious health condition and ADA restrictions on disability-related inquiries of employees?