CODI: Cornucopia of Disability Information

Laws in a Nutshell

			   The Laws in a Nutshell
                        
	The Americans with Disabilities Act[2] (ADA) was signed into law on
July 26, 1990, but the provisions relevant to this manual, do not take effect
until 1992.  By that time, Federal regulations will have been issued and this
manual may be augmented.  The ADA does not preempt any stronger City, State
or Federal laws.  While a few provisions of the ADA may be stronger than
these other laws, those provisions will not take effect until after they have
been further defined by regulations.  The main effect of the ADA in New York
has been to heighten awareness among all segments of society that people with
disabilities should be treated fairly and that there must be compliance with
existing laws prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities.
     
	Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Sec. 503)[3] requires
Federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to
employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities.
Many City agencies are covered.  This provision is monitored by the United
States Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
(OFCCP).

	Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Sec. 504)[4]
states that no qualified individual with dis abilities shall, solely by
reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be
denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any
program or activity receiving or benefiting from Federal financial
assistance.  This includes employment, provision of services and
opportunities to participate.  Most City agencies are covered.  The United
States Department of Justice (DOJ) has responsibility for Federal
government-wide coordination and enforcement of this law.  Federal agencies
are responsible for issuing their own Sec. 504 regulations consistent with
basic standards and procedures established by DOJ coordinating
regulations.[5] Each agency's regulations must define applicable terms and
prohibit discriminatory practices against individuals with disabilities in
employment and in the provision of benefits or services.  Also, each agency
must establish a system for enforcing Sec. 504.  Due to the nature of the
activities conducted by the different agencies there are some unique
requirements.  In the body of this manual are the most widely used
provisions.  The footnotes indicate more specifically the requirements set
forth in the regulations of individual Federal agencies.  City agencies are
required to comply with the regulations of the Federal agencies from which
they receive financial assistance.

	New York City and State Human Rights Laws, as well as the State Civil
Rights Law, also prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability.  Those
laws apply whether or not an agency receives Federal, State or City funds.[6]
Other laws, such as New York City's Building Code, New York State's Public
Buildings Law and the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, discussed
in the publications previously distributed, sometimes also will have
implications for agency actions.


Determining Whether Your Agency Is Covered by Sec. 503 or Sec. 504

     All City agencies are covered by both the City and State Human Rights
Laws, as well as by the State Civil Rights Law; most are subject to the
requirements of Sec. 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act and some are
covered by Sec. 503 of that Act as well.


Section 503

     Section 503 and its regulations apply to all agencies which hold Federal
government contracts under which they furnish supplies or services,
contracts for the use of personal property, and construction contracts, in
the amount of $2,500 or more.[7] Agencies which only have Federal contracts
for less than $2,500 are not covered by Section 503, although they are
covered under Section 504 as recipients of Federal financial assistance.[8]
Contracts for indefinite amounts (for example, open end contracts or
purchase notice contracts) are covered unless your agency has reason to
believe that the amount to be ordered in any one year will be less than
$2,500.[9]

     If your agency has a covered Federal government contract, the contract
must include an affirmative action clause and your agency must take
affirmative steps to employ and advance in employment individuals with
disabilities.  The requirements of the affirmative action clause apply to
those agencies -- as well as to non-City subcontractors -- which participate
in work under the contract as contractors or subcontractors.[10] Therefore, if
your agency is covered by Sec. 503, any organization or business it retains
as a subcontractor also is covered.  For example, the City Department of
Employment has a Federal Department of Transporta tion contract in the
amount of $1 million; it enters into a contract with the XYZ Company to fill
potholes; XYZ is a covered subcontractor.  The affirmative action
requirements apply to all agency activities -- not just those relating to the
contract.  In addition to these basic requirements, employers with 50 or
more employees and contracts of $50,000 or more must have a written
affirmative action plan and designate responsible employees to carry it
out.[11]

	New York City agencies should contact the City's Law Department
regarding standard contract language (sometimes referred to as "boilerplate")
to be incorporated into Federal contracts.  The affirmative action clause
issued by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is included in
Appendix A.

     The terms "contractor" and "subcontractor" as used in this handbook
refer to those contractors and subcontractors covered by Sec. 503.


Section 504
   
     Section 504 and its regulations apply to any program or activity which
receives Federal financial assistance.  Thus, they cover most City agencies.
Section 504 covers employment, the provision of services and the
availability of opportunities to participants.

"Program or activity" - Discrimination on the basis of disability is
prohibited throughout an entire local government agency if any part of the
agency receives Federal financial assistance.  As discussed below, such
discrimination also is barred in corporations and other entities which
receive Federal funds, including those which may be subre cipients through
your agency.  Agencies which themselves receive Federal funds must require
subrecipients to comply with Sec. 504.

	Local governments.  A local government agency which receives Federal
financial assistance must conduct all of its programs and activities in
compliance with Sec. 504 and the Sec. 504 regulations of the Federal
agencies from which it receives funds, either directly or indirectly.
Where a local government agency receives Federal aid and distributes it to
another department or agency, both entities are covered.  For example, New
York City's Office of Management and Budget (NYCOMB) receives funds from the
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which it
disburses to MOPD for use in Project Open House and to run a Housing Data
Bank, while MOPD also receives Federal Department of Labor (DOL) funds
through the City's Department of Employment (NYCDOE) to run a Training and
Employment Program.  Accordingly, all of NYCOMB's programs and activities
are covered by HUD's regulations under Sec. 504; NYCDOE's by DOL's; and
MOPD's by both HUD's and DOL's.  Of course, NYCOMB also receives and
distributes funds from other Federal agencies and so must comply with the
regulations of those agencies as well.  Bi-state agencies which receive
Federal funds, such as the Port Authority, also are covered.

	If any part of your agency receives Federal funds, all aspects of
your agency's employment procedures, programs and activities must comply
with the Sec. 504 regulations of the Federal funding agency(ies).  Coverage
is not limited to those projects in which Federal funding is used.  So, for
example, work done by the City's Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) must
comply with Sec. 504 even though the work in question is funded entirely from
City tax levy revenues, since NYCDOT receives Federal funds for other
purposes.[12]

     Schools.  Where Federal aid is provided to any part of a college,
university or public system of higher education, the entire institution or
system is covered.  For example, if the physics department of a college
receives a Federal grant to do research, but the college receives no other
Federal funding, it still could be a violation of Sec. 504 if the English
department refused to schedule a class in an accessible room to accommodate
a student with a disability, or if the humanities department refused to
promote an instructor due to a disability which did not prevent the
performance of the essential functions of the job.  The same applies for an
elementary or secondary school system; in New York City, the Board of
Education is covered.

     Corporations or other private organizations.  The entire corporation or
private organization is covered where either (1) Federal financial
assistance is extended to it as a whole; or (2) it provides a public service
such as education, health care or social services; otherwise, only the
facility (for example, the plant or factory) receiving Federal funding is
covered.[13]
 
"Federal financial assistance" - Assistance may be in a number of forms.
"Assistance" includes any grant, loan, contract (other than a procurement
contract or a contract of insurance or guaranty) or any other arrangement by
which a Federal department or agency provides or otherwise makes available

     * funds;

     * services of Federal personnel; or 

     * real or personal property, or any interest in, or use 
       of such property.[14]

     Funding does not have to be direct; for example, a subrecipient is also
a covered recipient of Federal financial assistance.  It is a prime
recipient's responsibility to ensure subrecipients act in compliance with
Federal regulations.[15]

When Different Laws Apply, Follow the Most Stringent 
 
     City agencies are covered by City and State Human Rights and Civil
Rights Laws; many also are covered by Secs.  503 or 504, as well as by the
regulations of several different Federal agencies, since they receive
financial assistance from more than one Federal agency.  When different
laws apply, the most stringent elements of each Federal agency's 503 and 504
regulations must be followed; if a City or State requirement is more
stringent, that must be followed.  For example, consider the case of two
Federal agencies with somewhat different regulations.  If one agency
requires compliance within one year and another permits only six months, the
six month requirement must be met; if the first Federal agency requires a
conference on a complaint within sixty days, but the second agency allows
seventy, there must be compliance with the first agency's regulations on
this point.  If a City or State law requires removal of architectural
barriers where Federal law does not, the City or State law will govern on
that issue.

     Compliance with Sec. 504 requirements will not necessarily fulfill
Sec. 503 obligations.  As mentioned earlier, Sec. 503, which solely
addresses employment practices, requires affirmative action (which will be
described below).  Section 503 is administered by the DOL's OFCCP.  Section
504 involves public accommodation and other areas, as well as 
employment, and is administered by the various Federal 
funding agencies.
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