Employment Rights for People with Disabilities

Employee Rights

Individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination in employment primarily by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. Many states also have laws to protect against discrimination in employment based on disability, and some of these state laws provide even greater protection than under federal law. The information and resources on this page only concern federal laws which prohibit discrimination in employment based on disability. Other information on state law protecting individuals with disabilities may be available from your state government.

The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate in employment against a qualified individual with a disability. The ADA also outlaws discrimination against individuals with disabilities in State and local government services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications. This part of the law is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and State and local civil rights enforcement agencies that work with the Commission.

The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires federal contractors and subcontractors with government contracts in excess of $10,000 to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities. Additionally, OFCCP has coordinating authority under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits job discrimination by employers against qualified individuals with disabilities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has primary authority for enforcing the employment-related provisions of the ADA, which are found in Title I. Most government contractors are covered by both Section 503 and Title I of the ADA.

OFCCP also enforces the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). Some disabled veterans are covered under this law. If a covered disabled veteran believes he or she has been discriminated against by a federal contractor or subcontractor, he or she may file a complaint with OFCCP.

The Department’s Civil Rights Center (CRC) enforces the employment-related provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 504 covers organizations and entities that receive federal financial assistance from DOL. CRC also enforces Title II of the ADA as that title applies to the labor- and workforce-related practices of state and local governments and other public entities. Finally, CRC enforces Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), which bars disability-based discrimination by programs and activities that are part of the One-Stop employment and training system established by WIA Title I. See the Laws & Regulations subtopic for specific information on these laws.

Get Help

You can call your P&A about employment when:

  • You want to know what help is available to get or keep a job.
  • You want to know what will happen to your benefits if you go to work.
  • You have transportation problems getting to and from work.
  • You believe you were not hired or given a different job because of your disability.
  • You were not given the help you needed to do your job.
  • You think people at your job are not treating you fairly because of your disability.