The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

EEOC and Title I of the ADA: Overview and History

Passed by Congress in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the nation's first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications. EEOC was given enforcement authority for Title I of the Act, the employment discrimination provisions. Congress provided that Title I would not take effect for two years in order to allow the Commission time to develop regulations and technical assistance, time to conduct comprehensive public education programs on the new disability law, and time for employers to adjust to the new requirements.

EEOC met this new challenge well in advance of the law's effective date. The Commission conducted 62 public meetings around the country with representatives from disability rights and employer organizations to receive their input in developing regulations for the ADA. Comprehensive regulations and an interpretive appendix were issued in July l991, one year before the effective date of the Act's employment discrimination provisions; between 1991 and 1992, the Commission issued a Technical Assistance Manual which provided practical guidance for employers and persons with disabilities, and developed an intensive ADA training program for EEOC staff.

The complexity of issues arising under the ADA required developing a series of policy guidances designed to clarify and interpret the provisions of the law. Since 1993, EEOC has issued numerous enforcement guidances which have provided interpretations on key ADA issues, including pre-employment inquiries and medical examinations, psychiatric conditions, and the requirement that employers provide reasonable accommodations.

Since the inception of the ADA, the Commission has conducted vigorous and wide-ranging outreach efforts and training programs to educate the public and prevent disability discrimination, launching the New Freedom Initiative in 2002. In addition to providing compliance assistance to employers, the Commission also successfully resolves many ADA cases on a voluntary, cooperative basis through its mediation program or other administrative efforts. Since July, 1992, the Commission has recovered a total of $404,508,735 in monetary benefits through the administrative process.

If voluntary efforts to resolve cases are unsuccessful, the Commission enforces its statutes through litigation. From the ADA's effective date through July 26, 2002, the Commission has filed 498 ADA lawsuits. Since July 1992, the Commission has also garnered $45,311,393 in monetary benefits in ADA cases. The Commission has participated as amicus curiae in 113 cases on issues arising from or connected to the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act (an act that protects federal employees and others connected with the Federal Government from workplace discrimination and which was the precursor of the ADA), or other state disability laws.

This page was last modified on July 26, 2002.

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