The Americans with Disabilities Act and Disability Rights
One out of five Americans has a disability, making people with disabilities the largest minority group in the United States. Because disability affects so many people in the U.S., Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, which protects the civil rights of people with disabilities. The ADA requires that all people with disabilities have the right to non-discrimination and the right to equal access in public and private spaces. For decades, the ADA has protected the disability community from incidents like facing discrimination in workplaces and being excluded from public spaces.
Unfortunately, the ADA is violated every day in many different ways across the nation. People with spinal cord injuries constantly face barriers that are supposed to be prohibited under the ADA, such as the lack of an accessible entrance to a restaurant. It is incredibly important to know your rights. If your rights under the ADA are violated, you may be entitled to legal relief. Read below to learn about the basic rights that the ADA guarantees all people with disabilities.
Title II: State and Local Services
Title II of the ADA protects people with disabilities from discrimination and exclusion in state and local spaces. This means that all state and local services and activities are required to be fully accessible, regardless of whether the state or local entity receives money from the federal government or not. Title II also prohibits state and local workers from refusing service to people with disabilities. Title II regulations apply to public and local spaces such as stadiums, schools, sidewalks, and parks.
People with spinal cord injuries frequently face Title II ADA violations. Some of the most common violations that affect people with SCIs are the lack of a pool lift in a public pool, the absence of curb cuts leading up to a school building, and insufficient accessible seating areas in stadiums and other public venues.
Title III: Private Goods and Services
Title III of the ADA protects people with disabilities from discrimination and exclusion in the private sector. Under Title III, private entities are required to provide people with disabilities with equal access to their goods and services. Providing the disabled community with equal access to goods and services requires that companies provide accommodations to consumers when necessary. This also means that private entities are required to be accessible; specifically, private businesses that have been constructed or renovated since March 15th, 2012 are required to follow all ADA accessibility standards. Businesses with buildings that were constructed before March 15th, 2012 are required to follow ADA accessibility standards when it is “readily achievable” to do so. “Readily achievable” means that the business can comply with the ADA accessibility standards without significant difficulty or expenses. Examples of spaces that are regulated under Title III include hospitals, restaurants, airports, and movie theaters.
As with Title II, people with spinal cord injuries consistently face Title III violations across the nation. The most common Title III violations that people with spinal cord injuries face are restaurants and bars without accessible seating, airports without accessible shuttle services, and an insufficient number of accessible parking spaces in a store parking lot.
Title VII: Employment
Title VII of the ADA protects people with disabilities from discrimination and harrassment in the workforce. Title VII makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against job applicants because of their disability. Title VII also protects employees with disabilities from harassment and unfair treatment by employers and employers in the workplace. Protecting employees with disabilities from discrimination also means that employees with disabilities must be given all reasonable accommodations they may need to do their job.
Unfortunately, people with spinal cord injuries face Title VII violations frequently. The most common Title VII violations that people with spinal cord injuries face are employers not hiring them because of their disability and employers refusing to provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act protects people with disabilities from being discriminated against by organizations, services, or employers that receive federal funding. Section 504 protects K–12 public school students from discrimination in school, and ensures that students with disabilities are given the opportnuity to receive a proper education and participate in school activities. Section 504 also applies to other organizations that receive federal funding, such as airports and hospitals. People with disabilities are protected from discrimination in these settings, and they are to be provided equal opportunity to participate in all services and activities in these settings.
People with SCI face Section 504 violations all across the country. The most frequent Section 504 violations that people with spinal cord injuries experience are inaccessible public schools, inaccessible medical exam tables in hospitals, and publically-funded employers refusing to hire someone based on their disability.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act protects people with disabilities from being discriminated against when they are buying or renting a home, finding housing assistance, getting a mortgage, or partaking in other housing-related activities. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to refuse to sell or rent a home to someone based on that person’s disability. The Fair Housing Act also protects people with disabilities from being discriminated against, harassed, or unfairly evicted by landlords. Landlords cannot give different conditions or prices to people with disabilities when selling or renting a home. The Fair Housing Act also makes it illegal to deny someone a mortgage, a loan, or information on mortgages and loans because of their disability.
People with spinal cord injuries experience Fair Housing Act violations all too frequently. The most common Fair Housing Act violations that people with spinal cord injuries face are landlords refusing to sell or rent a home to a person because of their wheelchair, bank tellers refusing to give loans to someone because they are in a wheelchair, or landlords assigning higher housing prices to someone because of their wheelchair.
What to Do If Your Rights Are Violated
Although the ADA was passed in 1990, ADA violations and disability rights violations still take place across the nation to this day. People with disabilities deserve to have their civil rights upheld. If your civil rights protected under the ADA or other disability laws have been violated, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against the party at fault. A successful disability lawsuit requires the entity at fault to fix the violation; a successful lawsuit may also provide you with financial compensation.
If you believe your rights have been violated, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the form provided on this page. We can help answer any questions you have, and can help you find experienced attorneys necessary to win your case. Additionally, if your ADA rights have been violated, consider filing a formal complaint through www.ADA.gov/complaint