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What is an ADA lawyer?

Have questions about what an ADA lawyer is? Read on to understand what an ADA lawyer does and how they can help.

evident Editorial Team
November 28, 2023
lady justice, law books, ada lawyer

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that has transformed the lives of millions. For disabled individuals, it has been a champion of rights, and for businesses, it’s a guide to fostering inclusive environments.

One essential component in navigating the complexities of the ADA is an ADA lawyer. But what is an ADA lawyer, and why might someone need one?

The ADA, enacted in 1990, is a federal law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including employment, education, transportation, and all public and private spaces open to the general public. This legislation is vital because it ensures that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

An ADA lawyer, sometimes called a disability discrimination lawyer, specializes in this significant legislation and its related laws. Whether you are a person with a disability facing discrimination or a business owner seeking to ensure compliance with the law, an ADA lawyer can be an invaluable ally.

In this article, we will explain the role of an ADA lawyer, how they can assist both individuals and employers, the different aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and much more.

Key Takeaways

Understanding the ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, was signed into law on July 26, 1990. This federal law marked a monumental step towards equality for individuals with disabilities, as it prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunities. You can read the full text of the ADA on the ADA website.

Titles within the ADA

The ADA comprises several titles (or sections), each addressing different aspects of public life:

Title I: Employment

  • Protects qualified individuals with disabilities from employment discrimination and related adverse employment action.
  • Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations unless it causes undue hardship.
  • Covers businesses with 15 or more employees.

Title II: State and Local Government

  • Ensures that individuals with disabilities have equal access to public programs, services, and activities.
  • Includes specific provisions for public transportation.

Title III: Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities

  • Prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, such as hotels, restaurants, and theaters.
  • Requires that new construction and modifications of existing facilities must be accessible.
  • Businesses must remove architectural barriers where readily achievable.

Title IV: Telecommunications

  • Requires telephone and internet companies to ensure services are accessible to individuals with hearing or speech disabilities.

Title V: Other Requirements

  • Prohibits retaliation against individuals who assert their rights under the ADA.
  • Authorizes courts to award attorneys' fees to an individual if their ADA lawsuit is successful.

Each of these titles plays a crucial role in creating an inclusive society for individuals with disabilities.

In the next section, we will focus on the role of ADA lawyers, who are instrumental in ensuring that these rights are upheld and that both individuals and organizations can navigate the complexities of this vital legislation.

The Role of an ADA Lawyer

An ADA lawyer is instrumental in upholding the rights granted by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whether you are an individual seeking to protect your rights or an employer wanting to ensure compliance, an ADA lawyer's expertise can be invaluable.

An ADA Lawyer's primary focus is on protecting the rights of disabled individuals. This can include:

  • Ensuring Reasonable Accommodations: For individuals with disabilities, an ADA lawyer can help ensure that they receive the reasonable accommodations they are entitled to, whether at the workplace, in education, or in accessing public services.
  • Representation in Cases of Disability Discrimination: If you suspect discrimination due to a disability, seeking legal counsel is often essential. An ADA lawyer will guide you through the legal process, from filing a complaint to representing you in court if necessary.
  • Understanding “Substantially Limits” and “Major Life Activity”: An ADA lawyer can help individuals understand if their disability "substantially limits" a "major life activity," as these are key determinants in qualifying for ADA protections.
  • Assisting Employers: Understanding and complying with the ADA can be complex for employers. An ADA lawyer can assist in clarifying employers' responsibilities and guide them in implementing necessary changes.

How Employers Can Avoid ADA Violations

With an ADA lawyer's guidance, employers can establish policies and practices that prevent violations, such as ensuring accessibility and providing reasonable accommodations to disabled employees.

Determining what constitutes reasonable accommodation and what might be an undue hardship is a nuanced process. An ADA lawyer can help employers find the balance, ensuring compliance without adversely impacting the business.

Here are a few examples of reasonable accommodations

  • Providing a sign language interpreter
  • Modifying work schedules
  • Making facilities wheelchair accessible

ADA Lawsuits

When ADA rights are infringed upon, it sometimes leads to legal action. Understanding the different types of ADA lawsuits and the processes involved is important for both individuals and businesses.

Common grounds for ADA lawsuits include:

  • Employment Discrimination: This is when an employer treats a qualified individual with a disability unfavorably compared to others.
  • Unequal Access to Public Accommodations: This is when an individual with a disability is denied equal access to public places like restaurants, hotels, or stores.
  • Inaccessibility of Commercial Facilities: This is when there’s inaccessibility in commercial properties due to architectural barriers. For example, a restaurant that has stairs but no ramp for wheelchairs.

The Process of an ADA Lawsuit

Understanding the process of an ADA lawsuit can be crucial for both the individuals who feel their rights have been violated and the entities facing a lawsuit.

  1. Filing the Lawsuit

An individual who believes they have experienced discrimination can file a lawsuit. It's crucial to have an ADA lawyer to ensure the complaint is filed correctly.

  1. Discovery

Both parties gather evidence. This can include documents, witness testimonies, and expert reports.

  1. Pre-Trial Motions

Both parties may file motions to resolve the case or determine what evidence will be allowed at trial.

  1. Trial

If the lawsuit doesn't settle, the case goes to trial, where a judge or jury will determine the outcome.

  1. Appeal

The losing party may choose to appeal the decision.

Finding the Right ADA Lawyer

When facing an ADA-related issue, finding the right ADA lawyer is critical. Whether you are an individual seeking to protect your rights or an employer looking for guidance on compliance, the expertise of your lawyer can significantly impact the outcome.

What to look for in an ADA lawyer

  • Experience in Disability and Employment Law: Look for a lawyer or law firm with extensive experience handling cases related to the ADA.
  • Familiarity with Federal Law and ADA Regulations: The lawyer should have in-depth knowledge of federal law and ADA regulations.
  • Client Testimonials and Case Results: Review client testimonials and past case results to gauge the lawyer’s expertise and client satisfaction.

Questions to ask an ADA lawyer

  • How many ADA cases have you handled?
  • What were the outcomes of the most recent cases?
  • How familiar are you with the ADA and related laws?
  • Can you provide references from past clients?
  • What are your fees and how are they structured?

By understanding what to look for in an ADA lawyer and knowing how an ADA attorney can assist you, you'll be well-equipped to make an informed decision.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does ADA stand for in law?

ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It's a federal law enacted in 1990 that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in public life, including employment, education, transportation, and public accommodations.

What is ADA in layman's terms?

In simple terms, the ADA is a law that ensures people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. It helps them access places and services and protects them from being treated unfairly because of their disability.

What are the chances of winning an ADA lawsuit?

The chances of winning an ADA lawsuit vary depending on many factors, such as the nature of the case, the evidence presented, and the expertise of the ADA lawyer representing the case. It's important to consult an experienced ADA lawyer for guidance.

Is ADA the same as disability?

No, ADA refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities. When people refer to "disability," they are often referring to disability benefits.

The ADA protects the rights of individuals with disabilities and could provide grounds for a lawsuit. But the ADA is not a benefits program and does not provide for disability benefits.

The Bottom Line

Understanding the role and importance of an ADA lawyer is essential in today’s diverse and inclusive society. Whether you're an individual seeking protection under the ADA or an employer aiming to ensure compliance, an ADA lawyer is your advocate and guide through the complex landscape of disability law.