CODI: Cornucopia of Disability Information

Rights of People with Disabilities:

CHAPTER II SIGNIFICANT LAWS AFFECTING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES 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. Federal 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 buildings; Section 503 -- requiring affirmative action in employment by Federal contractors; and - 6 - 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. - 7,8 -
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