Your Legal Disability Rights
Know your rights under federal law. Read about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects people’s rights regarding employment, public accommodations, state and local government services, and more. Learn about special accommodations for travelers and voters. Know how to fight job discrimination.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the rights of people with disabilities. It guarantees equal opportunity in:
The Department of Justice ADA information line answers questions about ADA requirements. It's available to businesses, state and local governments, and the public. Call 1- 800-514-0301 (TTY: 1-800-514-0383).
Find More ADA Resources From the Government
The ADA website has information on:
The United States Access Board website provides:
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to make electronic and information technology accessible.
When to File a Complaint
According to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, hotels, restaurants, and certain places of entertainment must provide disability access.
If you feel that you've been the object of Title III discrimination, you can file an ADA complaint.
Traveling with a Disability
People with disabilities have legal protection from discrimination while traveling. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives guidelines for accessibility and special accommodations. Learn more about the ADA and how to file a complaint.
Travel by Air
The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) screens all air travelers leaving from U.S. airports.
The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination against passengers with disabilities. Learn your rights under this rule and how to make a complaint.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) enforces your rights in airports and on planes. It has guidelines for:
Travel by Rail
Travel by Bus and Local Transit
Several federal laws protect the rights of Americans with disabilities to vote. These include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
Voters with disabilities have the right to:
Vote in private, without help
Have an accessible polling place with voting machines for voters with disabilities
Polling places must have:
Wheelchair-accessible voting booths
Entrances and doorways at least 32 inches wide
Handrails on all stairs
Voting equipment for people who are blind or visually impaired
If you have a disability, you may:
Seek help from poll workers trained to use the accessible voting machine, or
Bring someone to help you vote.
You can also ask local election officials what other options you have.
Some states offer “curbside voting," when a poll worker brings everything you need to vote to your car.
Some set up polling places at long-term care facilities.
Local organizations may provide transportation to the polls.
Many states let people with disabilities vote by mail.
The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) helps people overcome language barriers to voting.
Federal law also lets you bring someone to help you if you can't read or write.
Get Help and Learn More
Discrimination and Harassment at Your Job
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. These laws protect employees and job applicants against:
Discrimination, harassment, and unfair treatment in the workplace by anyone because of:
Being denied reasonable workplace accommodations for disability or religious beliefs
Retaliation because they:
Not All Employers Are Subject to EEOC Laws
An employer must have a certain number of employees to be covered by EEOC-enforced laws. This number varies based on the type of employer and the kind of discrimination alleged.
Businesses, state, and local governments must follow most EEOC laws if they have 15 or more employees.
Federal agencies must follow all EEOC laws, no matter how many employees they have.
Filing a Charge with the EEOC
If you are being harassed or discriminated against, you can file a charge with the EEOC. In most cases, you must file within 180 days of the event. You can:
Federal employees and job applicants have different complaint procedures.
Filing a Complaint with State or Local Government or Tribal Employment Rights Office
Many state and local governments have their own anti-discrimination laws. These laws may offer extra protections beyond federal laws.
Some state laws:
Apply to businesses with only five or six employees
Prohibit discrimination based on whether you're married or have children
Have different deadlines for filing a charge
Have different standards for deciding whether you’re covered by them
To file a complaint, find your state, local. or tribal employment rights office:
Many state laws have more protections for nursing mothers than federal law requires. State labor offices enforce these laws.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you're a victim of job discrimination or harassment, you can file a lawsuit. If the discrimination violates federal law, you must first file a charge with the EEOC. (This doesn't apply to cases of unequal pay between men and women.)
You may decide to sue if the EEOC can’t help you. In either case, look for an attorney who specializes in employment law. You can check with:
Laws that the EEOC Enforces
Federal employment discrimination laws include:
Harassment is unwelcome conduct based on:
It can include:
Sexual harassment may include:
Unwelcome sexual advances
Requests for sexual favors
Other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature
Offensive remarks about a person's sex
Harassment becomes illegal when:
Protection from Retaliation
EEOC laws protect employees and job applicants from retaliation. For example, it’s unlawful to punish people for:
Education Rights of People with Disabilities
Several federal laws protect the education rights of people with disabilities.
How Section 504 and Title II Protect Education Rights
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
IDEA applies to students in grades K-12.
Students with Disabilities at College or Technical School
Students with disabilities preparing to attend college or vocational school have rights and responsibilities.
Disability Discrimination in Education
If you feel a school has discriminated against you or your child, you can:
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Last Updated: April 8, 2019