Guest Author - Monica J. Foster
Did you know there is a Title V in the Americans with Disabilities Act? Do you know what it covers?
Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a very short piece, but discusses further details about the ADA's relationship with other federal and state laws and reinforces that retaliation and coercion against someone is wrong.
Title V includes information regarding the ADA's relationship with other federal and state laws, including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, requirements relating to the provision of insurance, construction and design regulations by the U.S. Access Board, prohibition of state immunity, inclusion of Congress as a covered entity under the law, promotion of alternative means of dispute resolution, and establishment of technical assistance.
According to text in the ADA, there can be no retaliation for a person with a disability standing up for their civil rights. The ADA says,"No person shall discriminate against any individual because such individual has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by this chapter or because such individual made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this chapter."
Interference, coercion, or intimidation are also spelled out as wrong here in the ADA:
"It shall be unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any individual in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his or her having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of his or her having aided or encouraged any other individual in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by this chapter."
So, a person with a disability cannot be bothered, bullied or otherwise negatively treated while enjoying or exercising his or her civil rights under the ADA. Also, there are "remedies and procedures" available under sections 12117, 12133, and 12188 of Title V (sections 107, 203 and 308), meaning advocacy and greivance procedures a person with a disability can follow to file a complaint or legal claim if there is discrimination involved.
Title V clearly states that both the States and Congress are covered by the ADA, and Title V for recovery of legal fees for successful proceedings pursuant to the ADA, and establishes a mechanism for technical assistance along with specific instructions to many federal agencies, such as the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Any other state or federal laws that apply to people with disabilities can be used under the umbrella of the ADA. This way, if a federal or state law is developed that is stronger than the provisions outlined in the ADA, these new, stricter regulations can be incorporated into the existing ADA legislation to provide the maximum protection for people with disabilities.
Also, the ADA draws an important distinction between the terms "reasonable accommodations" and "readily achievable." For small businesses and other employers, no modifications to their facilities must be undertaken for employees to fulfill the requirements of the ADA until a qualified individual with a disability has been hired. At that point, "reasonable accommodations" must be made unless they impose a significant difficulty or expense.
In contrast, the terminology "readily achievable" refers to business obligations to clients or guests and applies to actions that can be accomplished without much difficulty or expense. "Readily achievable" modifications must be made in anticipation of a disabled guest's or client's needs, before they ever arrive on the premises.
Compliance with the various provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act also lies with both landlord and tenant, so either or both party may be held legally liable for violations of the ADA. Responsibilities under the ADA are generally made in the lease agreement. Small business owners who lease their office space or other place of business, then, should examine these agreements very carefully.