Disability Rights

Solving Problems One Client at a Time

A significant part of our practice involves representation of individuals with disabilities who have been subjected to unlawful discrimination, including employment discrimination, educational discrimination, family and medical leave discrimination, and housing discrimination. Unfortunately, despite passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act in 1991, individuals with disabilities are routinely discriminated against and denied access to public accommodations, transportation, or public benefits.

If you or a loved one have experienced discrimination, have been denied accomodations or benefits as a result of a physical or mental disability, or if you simply have questions about your rights, please call for a free consultation.

Please see below for a summary of the major disability rights laws.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the primary federal law relating to individuals with disabilities. Within the reach of the ADA are matters involving employment practices, government programs and benefits, public transportation, public accommodations, and telecommunications.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in federal programs or programs receiving federal financial assistance. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act states that “no qualified individual with a disability shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under” any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance. Section 504 may also cover claims of discrimination brought by students with disabilities or their parents against their local school district.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of disability (as well as on the basis of race, religion, sex, familial status, and national origin). The FHA covers private housing, housing that receives federal financial assistance, and state and local government housing projects. Under the FHA, it is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability and requires owners of housing facilities to make reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities.

State Laws

There are a number of state laws relating to disability rights. Many are state codifications of federal law. Some provide additional rights or impose stricter liabilities. And some laws, particularly those governing public health, apply regardless of physical or mental condition. Most can be found in the Maine Revised Statutes at Title 5, particularly at Chapters 337 A-D (Human Rights) and Chapter 511 (Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities), Title 20-A (Education), Titles 22 and 22-A (Health and Welfare), and Title 34-B (Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse).

For more on the major federal disability rights laws, please go to the “articles” section of the web site and click “Summary of Federal Disability Rights Laws”.