Skip top navigation Skip to content

Print   Email  Share

The Law

Below are the laws, implemented by the EEOC, that influenced or amended the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Also included are the EEOC's regulations (both the original and the current) implementing Title I of the ADA.

For historical reasons, these are presented as originally passed by Congress or issued by the EEOC.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

In September, Congress passes the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 501 prohibits the Federal Government as an employer from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. EEOC is responsible for enforcement of Section 501. The Act proves to be the model for Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability by private employers.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

In July, President George Bush signs into law the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) -- the world's first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities. The Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment (Title I), in public services (Title II), in public accommodations (Title III) and in telecommunications (Title IV). EEOC is responsible for enforcing Title I's prohibition against discrimination against people with disabilities in employment. Title I does not become effective until two years after the President signs the bill (July 26, 1992). The ADA is described as the Emancipation Proclamation for the disability community.

Civil Rights Act of 1991

Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (CRA) thereby overruling several Supreme Court decisions rendered in the late 1980s that had made it more difficult for plaintiffs to prevail in their employment discrimination suits and to recover fees and costs when they won their lawsuits. The procedural and substantive amendments under the CRA, which apply to Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, provide for the first time that the parties can request jury trials and that successful plaintiffs can recover compensatory and punitive damages in intentional employment discrimination cases.

Regulations to Implement the Employment Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1991)

The EEOC issues final regulations and an interpretive appendix explaining the requirements of the Title I of the ADA, one year before the ADA is to become effective.

ADA Amendments Act of 2008

In September, Congress passes and President George W. Bush signs the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), to become effective January 1, 2009.  In the ADAAA, Congress rejects the holdings of two Supreme Court decisions that narrowed the definition of "disability" (Sutton v. United Airlines, Inc., 527 US 471 (1999) and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams, 534 US 184 (2002)), thus eliminating protection for many individuals with disabilities whom Congress had intended to protect.  The ADAAA expands coverage and protection in several ways.

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009

 In January, Congress passes and President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. This law overturned the Supreme Court's decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), which severely restricted the time period for filing complaints of employment discrimination concerning compensation.  In addition to amending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the law also amends the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act to clarify the time frame in which victims of discrimination may challenge and recover for discriminatory compensation decisions or other discriminatory practices affecting compensation.

Regulations to Implement the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act

In 2011, the EEOC issues revised regulations implementing the employment provisions of the ADA.  The revised regulations reflect the changes to the definition of "disability" made by the ADAAA, in particular, Congress's mandate that the definition of disability be construed broadly.

Current text of the laws, as amended:

Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended

Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended