Learn About

Go To--> Learn About | Civil Rights

Article: Guide To Civil Rights

Employment Rights

Table of Contents
  1. Advocacy
  2. Policies and Initiatives
  3. Elder Rights
  4. Education Rights
  5. Employment Rights
  6. Healthcare Rights
  7. Housing Rights
  8. Transportation Rights
  9. Communication Rights
  10. Consumer Protection Rights
  11. Civil Rights Organizations
  12. Civil Rights Publications
  13. Civil Rights Protections
  14. Emergency Laws
  15. Community-Based Laws and Legislation

Americans with Disabilities Act
Section 504
Workforce Investment Act
Other Laws

Certain laws protect individuals who are employed, or are seeking employment, from discrimination. These laws also provide them with equal employment opportunities. In order to provide an equal employment opportunity, employers are required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide employees with disabilities reasonable accommodations. This section discusses the ADA and the rights of both the employer and employee. Through the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, individuals with disabilities are provided supports to help them participate and succeed in employment. Other laws that exist to provide help and support for individuals with disabilities who are capable and want to work are discussed in this section.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that prohibits discrimination and ensures that people with disabilities have equal opportunity in employment. Equal opportunity means:

  • No discrimination during recruitment
  • Reasonable accommodations during the application process and interview
  • No discrimination during hiring and firing
  • Reasonable accommodation on the job and at worksites
  • Equal pay and benefits as other employees in the same position
  • Access to employee facilities such as restrooms, break rooms, etc.
  • Equal opportunity for promotion, pay raises, etc.
  • Equal opportunity in all other employment practices

All employers with 15 or more employees, including for-profit and nonprofit businesses, state and local governments, religious entities and the United States Congress, must comply with ADA. Under ADA Employers are required to provide accommodations for a known physical or mental limitation. This means that employees must be obligated to tell the employer about the disability and how it limits their job performance in order to receive accommodations. The employer is only required to provide such an accommodation as long as it does not pose an "undue hardship" on the company. An undue hardship would be an excessive financial burden or interference with the operation of the business. Factors that are considered in determining an undue hardship include: the overall financial resources of the organization, the nature and cost of the accommodation, and the impact of providing the accommodation on the particular site or operation of the business. More information about reasonable accommodations and the definition of an undue hardship is found in the links listed in this section.

Discrimination is another topic that the ADA covers both during the hiring process and while working. A fundamental principle of the ADA is that individuals with disabilities who want to work and are qualified to work must have an equal opportunity to work. In the links below you will find resources on what is considered discrimination under the ADA along with tips for employers on how to create equal opportunities for their employees.

Americans with Disabilities Act
Go to this website for an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

ADA Homepage
This website contains a comprehensive information and technical assistance regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ADA Technical Assistance Centers
The ADA Technical Assistance Centers provide information, materials, training and technical assistance related to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is an agency that enforces ADA regulations.

The U.S. Department of Labor - Disability
The U.S. Department of Labor website explains the laws that protect your employment rights as a person with a disability.

Job Applicants and the ADA
On this site you will find specific information on the ADA and how it relates to employment and hiring procedures.

Job Accommodation Network
The Job Accommodation Network website supports this handbook called A Practical Guide to the Americans with Disabilities Act. This handbook provides general guidelines for employers regarding their responsibilities under the ADA.

The U.S. Department of Labor
The US Department of Labor has various publications on job accommodations.

Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act

Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 strives to empower individuals with disabilities to maximize employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence, and inclusion and integration into society. It does this through different programs, research, training, and demonstration projects. Another purpose of the act is to ensure that the Federal Government plays a leadership role in promoting the employment of individuals with disabilities. As a result, programs such as the Ticket-to-Work program came into existence. Section 504 also prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in workplaces that receive federal funding.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended in 1992 to include an expanded definition of an "individual with a disability." It also clearly outlines the intent of Congress to ensure consumer choice in career opportunities.

In this section you will find resources about the Vocational Rehabilitation Act and how it relates to the employment of people with disabilities.

U.S. Department of Education
This page has a link to a copy of the law in Word format.

The Rehabilitation Act Amendments
This site has information about Section 504 as amended in 1992.

Rehabilitation Act
This site discusses Section 504 in relation to discrimination based on disability and what an individual's rights are.

Back to Top 

Workforce Investment Act

The Workforce Investment Act builds upon Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act in that it provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to be employed and self-sufficient. This act also works towards an increase in job retention, earnings, and occupational skills. By doing so, the quality of the workforce will improve and the nation will see a reduction in welfare dependency. The Workforce Investment Act provides increased flexibility enabling states to create programs using federal job training funds for youth, adults, and dislocated workers.

The programs formed by the Workforce Investment Act benefit both program participants and the communities in which they reside.

Job Seekers

  • Access to job search and labor market information
  • Advice, counseling, and support
  • Skills training and education
  • Individual choice to reach employment goals



  • Inventory of skills and interests
  • Guidance to attain educational goals
  • Opportunities to develop leadership skills
  • Exposure to work environment through training and adult mentoring



  • Influence over local area employment policy
  • Improved and trained employee pool
  • Development of on-the-job and customized training opportunities
  • Assistance for laid-off workers



  • Access to local area job market information
  • Improved workforce quality
  • Services designed for local area needs
  • Reduced need for welfare


Working for America
This website outlines the three priorities of Workforce Investment Acts and how they affect the implementation of the law.

U. S. Department of Labor
This website contains the full text of the law.

Other Laws

Other laws that protect the employment rights of individuals with disabilities include requirements that ensure that the workplace is accessible; there are entitlements to medical leave, and opportunities to gain and improve employment skills. Listed below are resources to the laws that regulate these requirements.

Architectural Barriers Act of 1968
This law requires buildings and facilities designed, built, or altered with certain federal funds or leased for occupancy by federal agencies to be accessible to persons with disabilities.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993
This law allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year to care for newborn children and family members with serious health conditions. Leave is also provided for workers who are recovering from serious health conditions.

Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996
This law improves access to health care for Americans by guaranteeing that private health insurance is available, portable, and renewable, and has limited pre-existing condition exclusions.

Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999
This law allows for Medicaid and/or Medicare benefits to be extended for people with disabilities who go to work. It also provides for a "ticket to work and self-sufficiency" which allows Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities more choices and expanded options in pursuing employment and employment supports.

Fair Labor Standards Act
This site discusses child labor rules according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. This link will also take you to individual state child labor rules.

Back to Top 

Previous Next

Last Updated on 1/22/2016

Sunday, June 23, 2024