The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. The statute is divided into three main sections covering employment (Title I), state and local government services (Title II), and public accommodations (Title III).
As explained on the DOJ website:
Title I of the ADA prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations.
Title II protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs, and activities provided by state and local government entities. Title II extends the prohibition on discrimination established by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to all activities of state and local governments regardless of whether these entities receive federal financial assistance.
Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in “public accommodations” (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors’ offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation – as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings) – to comply with the ADA Standards.
The ADA defines “public accommodations” as follows:
The following private entities are considered public accommodations for purposes of this subchapter, if the operations of such entities affect commerce:
(A) an inn, hotel, motel, or other place of lodging, except for an establishment located within a building that contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and that is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as the residence of such proprietor;
(B) a restaurant, bar, or other establishment serving food or drink;
(C) a motion picture house, theater, concert hall, stadium, or other place of exhibition entertainment;
(D) an auditorium, convention center, lecture hall, or other place of public gathering;
(E) a bakery, grocery store, clothing store, hardware store, shopping center, or other sales or rental establishment;
(F) a laundromat, dry-cleaner, bank, barber shop, beauty shop, travel service, shoe repair service, funeral parlor, gas station, office of an accountant or lawyer, pharmacy, insurance office, professional office of a health care provider, hospital, or other service establishment;
(G) a terminal, depot, or other station used for specified public transportation;
(H) a museum, library, gallery, or other place of public display or collection;
(I) a park, zoo, amusement park, or other place of recreation;
(J) a nursery, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, or postgraduate private school, or other place of education;
(K) a day care center, senior citizen center, homeless shelter, food bank, adoption agency, or other social service center establishment; and
(L) a gymnasium, health spa, bowling alley, golf course, or other place of exercise or recreation.
42 U.S.C. § 12181(7).
Title III includes an exemption for bona fide private clubs and religious organizations. 42 U.S.C. § 12187.
Because the legal rules governing claims under the ADA are complicated, an individual who believes he or she has experienced disability discrimination should contact a qualified civil rights attorney immediately.