Americans With Disabilities Act

This is information on the Americans with Disabilities Act which is referred to as "the ADA". The ADA was passed by Congress in 1990, but most of its provisions did not go into effect until 1992. It provides legal protection for persons with disabilities. The ADA guarantees equal opportunity and requires reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. There is also a state law, called the Illinois Human Rights Act, and a city law, called the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance, which provide legal protection for people with disabilities in employment and public accommodations. To learn how to file a charge under the Illinois Human Rights Act, you can call the Illinois Department of Human Rights at 312-814-6200. For information about filing a complaint under the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance, you can call the Chicago Commission on Human Relations at 312-744-4111. Unless otherwise specified, the nformation which follows is about the ADA.


Under the ADA, employers must reasonably accommodate the disabilities of qualified applicants or employees, unless the employer can show that it would cause undue hardship or present a direct threat to the health or safety of the disabled employee or co-workers. Employers may not discriminate against an individual with a disability in hiring or promotion if the person can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation by the employer. After July 26, 1992, employers with 25 or more employees are covered by the ADA; and after July 26, 1994, employers with 15 or more employees.
If you believe your rights under the ADA were violated by an employer, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the "EEOC"). For details on how to do this, you can call the EEOC at (312) 353-2713 or (800) 669-4000.

You may file a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, (312) 814-6200, and the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, (312) 744-4111.

Public Accommodations

Public Accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors' and lawyers' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers may not discriminate on the basis of disability, effective January 26, 1992. The ADA requires physical and communication barriers to be removed if readily achievable and not an undue hardship. All new construction of public accommodations must be made accessible with a few narrow exceptions. One exception allows some newly constructed facilities, if they are less than three stories, not to have elevators.

If you believe your rights under ADA were violated in a place of public accommodation, you can send a written complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice at the Office on the Americans with Disabilities Act, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 66738, Washington, D.C. 20035-9998.

You may also file a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, (312) 814-6200, and the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, (312) 744-4111.


All new rapid transit buses and new bus stations must be accessible to disabled people. Transit authorities must provide an alternative transportation service to individuals who cannot use fixed route bus services, unless an undue burden would result. The ADA also requires existing rail systems and key rapid transit stations to be made accessible within specified periods. New and existing rail systems and rail stations must be accessible within future specified dates.

If you believe that the public bus or rail systems are not accessible to you or you would like to know more about your rights in this area, you may contact the Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street SW, Room 10424, Washington D.C. 20590. The telephone number is (202) 366-9305.

State and Local Government

State or local governments may not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. All government facilities, services, and communications must be accessible according to the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

You may file a complaint with the federal agency designated by the United States Attorney General for this purpose. To find out where you should file your complaint against a specifi governmental body, you may call the Great Lakes Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center at (800) 949-4232.

Telecommunications Relay Services

Companies offering telephone services to the general public must offer telephone relay services to individuals who use telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD's) or similar devices.

If you believe that you were discriminated against in this area, you should contact the Federal Communications Commission, 1919 M Street NW, Washington D.C. 20544. The telephone number is (202) 632-7260.

For more information on the ADA, contact the U.S. Department of Justice, CIVIL Rights Division, Coordination and Review Section, P.O. Box 66118, Washington D.C. 20035-6118. The telephone number is (202) 514-0301. Hearing impaired persons may call the following TDD numbers: (202) 514-0381 and (202) 514-0383. For more information on the ADA, you may also contact Great Lakes Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1640 W. Roosevelt Rd., Chicago, IL 60608-1396. The voice and TDD number is (800) 729-8275

Your complaint to any of these federal agencies will result in investigation. It also may result in a lawsuit initiated by the federal government, or you may be able to initiate your own lawsuit. If you are successful, you may recover your court costs, expenses and attorneys' fees.

This general information about the law is not intended as legal advice about any particular problem. If you have questions about the ADA, you should consult a lawyer. If you do not know a lawyer and you live in Cook County, you can call the Lawyer Referral Service of The Chicago Bar Association at (312) 554-2001 or get an immediate referral on this website. Thank you for accessing Dial-Law. We hope this information has been helpful.