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Chapter I: An Overview Of Legal Requirements

This chapter of the manual provides a brief overview of the basic requirements of Title I of the ADA. Following chapters look at these and other requirements in more detail and illustrate how they apply to specific employment practices.

1.1 Who Must Comply with Title I of the ADA?

Private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor unions, and joint labor-management committees must comply with Title I of the ADA. The ADA calls these "covered entities." For simplicity, this manual generally refers to all covered entities as "employers," except where there is a specific reason to emphasize the responsibilities of a particular type of entity.

An employer cannot discriminate against qualified applicants and employees on the basis of disability. The ADA's requirements ultimately will apply to employers with 15 or more employees. To give smaller employers more time to prepare for compliance, coverage is phased in two steps as follows:

Number of employees Coverage begins

25 or more--July 26, 1992 15 or more--July 26, 1994

Covered employers are those who have 25 or more employees (1992) or 15 or more employees (1994), including part-time employees, working for them for 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The ADA's definition of "employee" includes U.S. citizens who work for American companies, their subsidiaries, or firms controlled by Americans outside the USA. However, the Act provides an exemption from coverage for any action in compliance with the ADA which would violate the law of the foreign country in which a workplace is located.

(Note that state and local governments, regardless of size, are covered by employment nondiscrimination requirements under Title II of the ADA as of January 26, 1992. See Coordination of Overlapping Federal Requirements below.)

The definition of "employer" includes persons who are "agents" of the employer, such as managers, supervisors, foremen, or others who act for the employer, such as agencies used to conduct background checks on candidates. Therefore, the employer is responsible for actions of such persons that may violate the law. These coverage requirements are similar to those of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Special Situations

Religious organizations are covered by the ADA, but they may give employment preference to people of their own religion or religious organization.

For example: A church organization could require that its employees be members of its religion. However, it could not discriminate in employment on the basis of disability against members of its religion.

The legislative branch of the U.S. Government is covered by the ADA, but is governed by different enforcement procedures established by the Congress for its employees.

Certain individuals appointed by elected officials of state and local governments also are covered by the special enforcement procedures established for Congressional employees.

Who Is Exempt?

Executive agencies of the U.S. Government are exempt from the ADA, but these agencies are covered by similar nondiscrimination requirements and additional affirmative employment requirements under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Also exempted from the ADA (as they are from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act) are corporations fully owned by the U.S. Government, Indian tribes, and bona fide private membership clubs that are not labor organizations and that are exempt from taxation under the Internal Revenue Code.