SIGNIFICANT LAWS AFFECTING PEOPLE
City, State and Federal laws recognize a wide variety of rights for people
with disabilities. Frequently, similar rights are covered by all three levels
of government, providing alternative enforcement mechanisms and remedies. En
forcement agencies coordinate their efforts to try to achieve the best result
for people who claim that their rights have been violated. As discussed later,
con sultation with appropriate administrative agencies or private counsel can
be helpful in determining to what extent some of these remedies may be pursued
simultaneously or whether following one may preclude another.
While many laws affect people with disabilities, several are most generally
significant in recognizing and providing enforcement for basic human rights.
This chapter introduces those laws; the following chapters will discuss them
in greater detail, showing how they and other laws work together in the areas
of employment, education, housing and public accommodations.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 17101 et seq.
The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), as described more fully in an
appendix, will prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in
employ ment, public accommodations (both government and private, including
surface transportation) and telecommunications. While most of the ADA's
provisions will not even begin to be phased in until the beginning of 1992 at
the earliest, most of the rights it recognizes already are protected under New
York City, New York State and Federal law.
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. Sec. 701 et seq.
"Section 504" is the term most often used in discussing the rights of people
with disabilities; it comes from this law. Until the Americans with
Disabilities Act becomes effective, the far-reaching Rehabilitation Act is the
primary Federal law relating to people with disabilities, although there are
many important pro visions in other laws. The most significant portions of
this law for purposes of this discussion are contained in Federal Labor Law as
29 U.S.C. Secs. 791, 792, 793 and 794, although they are more commonly known
by the numbers they bore in the bill as it was passed by Congress,respectively:
Section 501 -- requiring non-discrimination and affirmative
action in Federal employment;
Section 502 establishing the Architectural and Transportation
Barriers Compliance Board and requiring accessibility in Federal
Section 503 -- requiring affirmative action in employment by
Federal contractors; and
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SecUon 501- requiring non-discrimination in employment and
program access by Federal agencies, including the Postal Service,
as well as by other recipients of Federal funds.
The Sec. 504 category of recipients of Federal funds is quite broad,
including State agencies (e.g., police departments, housing authorities,
transit authori ties), educational institutions (public and private) and
private entities (e.g., companies, charitable organizations) which contract
with the Federal government. 28 C.F.R. Sec. 41.3(d), (e). Under the
Rehabilitation Act most Federal funding agencies issue their own regulations
concerning these sections, under the supervision of the Department of
Justice. See 28 C.F.R. Sec. 41.1 et seq. Many of the details which are most
important are contained in those regulations. It should be noted, however,
that some of those regulations are somewhat outdated, being based on
statutory provisions as interpreted before the Civil Rights Restoration Act
of 1987. After passage of that law, which restored coverage to entire
institutions even when only one part is receiving Federal funds, the Justice
Department approved the regulations of the Department of Housing and Urban
Development ("HUD"), published at 24 C.F.R. Part 8 on June 2,1988, and
recommended that others conform to these broader new regulations.
Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 3601 et seq.
This law, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, prohibits
discrimination on the basis of disability in matters relating to housing,
requires reasonable accommodations to the needs of people with disabilities
and establishes construction standards for accessible multifamily housing
built for first occupancy after March 13,1991. The amendments also added
considerable enforcement provisions which can be potent weapons in combatting
housing discrimination. The Department of Housing and Urban Development
("HUD") issued pertinent regulations amending various parts of 24 C.F.R. in
the Federal Register of January 23,1989 (pages 3232-3317); see 24 C.F.R.
Parts 14,100,103, 104,105, 106,109, 110,115,121 (1990).
Education of the Handicapped Act, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.
A free appropriate education, as well as related services, must be made
available to all children with disabilities under this law. States are
required to meet certain standards in order to qualify for Federal funding.
This law is about to be reenacted by Congress as the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") with several modifications, most notably
a new emphasis on transition from education to post-education life.
New York State
Human Rights Law, ExecuVve Law Sec. 290 et seq.
This law prohibits discrimination in many areas, including employment,
housing and public accommodations.
Civil Rights Law, Articles 4 and 4-B
This law recognizes a broad range of civil rights and, particularly in
Article 4-B, provides certain specific rights for people with disabilities
who use guide, hearing or service dogs.
New York City
Human Rights Law, Administrative Code, Title 8
Like its State counterpart, this law prohibits discrimination in a wide range
of areas, including employment, housing and public accommodations.
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