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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Disability Resources

Laws & Regulations

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the disability-related law with which many Americans are most familiar. The ADA is better known than other disability-related laws because it applies to a far broader range of persons, organizations, and businesses than any laws that preceded or have followed it. Various titles of the ADA apply in different circumstances.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits private sector employers who employ 15 or more individuals and employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint labor/management committees from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has primary enforcement responsibility under ADA Title I, and the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has coordinating authority under this title.

Title II of the ADA bars disability-based discrimination by, and imposes affirmative disability-related responsibilities on, public entities, including state and local governments. The Department of Labor's Civil Rights Center, a part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM), enforces Title II with regard to the programs, services, and regulatory activities of such entities relating to labor and the workforce.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination in the following four areas:

  • Section 501 prohibits federal agencies from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. It also requires these agencies to take affirmative action in the hiring, placing, and advancing of individuals with disabilities.
  • Section 503 requires contractors and subcontractors who have a contract with the federal government for $10,000 or more annually to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities. Section 503 is enforced by the Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
  • Section 504 prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in employment and in their programs and activities. The Civil Rights Center enforces Section 504 as it relates to recipients of financial assistance.
  • Section 508 requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a federal department or agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities. The Civil Rights Center enforces the complaint provisions of this section.

Two Executive Orders, both of which are enforced by the Civil Rights Center, also prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities:

  • E.O. 11478 prohibits employment discrimination and requires affirmative action on various bases, including disability, by the federal government.
  • E.O. 13160 prohibits disability-based discrimination in education programs and activities conducted by federal agencies.

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) establishes a national workforce preparation and employment system to meet the needs of businesses, job seekers, and those who want to further their careers. Customers have easy access to information and services through the One-Stop Career Center System. The Department's Civil Rights Center enforces Section 188 of WIA, which bars disability-related discrimination by, and imposes affirmative disability-related responsibilities on, programs and activities that are offered as part of the One-Stop service delivery system.

The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Act aims to increase beneficiary choice in obtaining rehabilitation and vocational services; remove barriers that require people with disabilities to choose between health care coverage and work; and assure that more Americans with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in the workforce and lessen their dependence on public benefits. The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) will work to facilitate the involvement of the workforce system and participate in policy considerations which will emerge as the provisions of the law are implemented.

Veterans with disabilities are protected by the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). It requires contractors or subcontractors who have a contract with the federal government for $25,000 or more to take affirmative action to employ, advance in employment, and otherwise treat covered veterans without discrimination.

Individuals with disabilities also may be protected by their state anti-discrimination laws, some of which are more stringent than the federal laws. To learn more about rights under state laws, contact disability commissions, committees, or councils in your state.

DOL Web Pages on This Topic

Related Web Pages on This Topic

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title I of ADA.
  • Department of Justice
    The Department of Justice enforces regulations governing public accommodations and state and local government services under ADA and coordinates enforcement of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  • Section 508
    The Center for Information Technology Accommodation, in the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Governmentwide Policy, has developed this Web site which contains resources for understanding and implementing the requirements of Section 508.