ADA’s 21st Anniversary

July 26, 2011

Some consider the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) one of the most important pieces of anti-discrimination legislation enacted by Congress since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the late 1980s, the social and political climate was ripe for change when Congress recognized a need to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination. On July 26, 1990, the ADA was enacted and signed into law by President George Bush. This month we celebrate the twenty first anniversary of the ADA. The preamble to the ADA clearly establishes its mandate: “An Act to establish a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability.” See PL 101-336

The ADA has several Titles that provide protection in several different areas that were of particular concern to Congress.

Title I of the ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the employment context.

Title II of the ADA relates to public services and prohibits public entities that provide public services, from discriminating against disabled individuals on the basis of their disability in the provision of such public services.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination in access to or use of public accommodations.

Title IV of the ADA relates to the Telecommunications Relay Services for Hearing-Impaired and Speech-Impaired Individuals

Title V of the ADA contains certain additional protections.

For a discussion of the various titles of the ADA, see PLIREF-DISLAW s 1:3

The signing of the ADA was a historic moment in the evolution of America’s disability policy. In enacting the ADA and the subsequent amendments, “Congress recognized that physical and mental disabilities in no way diminish a person’s right to fully participate in all aspects of society” and  enacted the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) in 2008 to restore the intent and protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 which had been judicially narrowed over the years since its enactment in 1990. See PL 110-325

There are several great resources for researching Disability Law on Westlaw:

PLIREF-DISLAW: Disability Law Deskbook: The Americans with Disabilities Act in the Workplace

ADA-PUBACC : This database contains the text of “Public Accommodations Under The Americans With Disabilities Act” which gives a comprehensive review of ADA standards, litigation issues, and practical applications of the law.

ADAWORKPLACE: This database contains the complete text of Workplace Accommodations Under the ADA, and provides insight into the “reasonable accommodation” requirement, explaining when you must provide unpaid leave, keep jobs open or reassign workers as accommodations for those with disabilities.

CCGADA : Corporate Counsel’s Guide to Americans with Disabilities Act

ABA-DISMAN: The ADA and People With Mental Illness: A Resource Manual for Employers

ADAGUIDE  This database contains the complete text of the ADA Compliance Guide, as published by the Thompson Publishing Group Inc. The guide explains the meaning of disability, reasonable accommodation, undue hardship, readily achievable barrier removal, program accessibility and the law’s many other key terms in plain English. In addition, it highlights steps that should be taken to ensure ongoing compliance. ADA regulations, enforcement guidance and accessibility standards are included, as well as summaries of significant ADA decisions.

Trends (2006 – 12011):

Using the following search, we tracked ADA claims from 2005 forward: nos(445 446) & fld(200x)

year: number of filings

2005: 2208

2006: 2500

2007: 2489

2008: 3192

2009: 3606

2010: 4520