Disability Discrimination Act

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Disability discrimination legislation provides protection and redress for any person who would otherwise face the risk of, has experienced or would experience being discriminated against on the basis of disability issues. The general term "discrimination" connotes arbitrary, unreasonable, exclusionary, antagonistic, disadvantaging and/or also damaging behavior by one group or an individual towards another group or an individual based on (protected) category or group membership. Disability discrimination legislation extends such protections and penalties to the processes, procedures and policies governing employment of the disabled.

Under the provisions of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, these protections and penalties apply to job application procedures, hiring, advancement and discharge of employees, workers' compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

Moreover, its provisions govern the practices of employment agencies, labor unions and joint labor-management bodies, as well as those of employers.

The terms of the ADA specify that a disability is "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity." Determinations as to whether any particular condition is considered a disability are made on a case-by-case basis, with various specific conditions , such as substance addictions and correctable visual impairment excluded as disabilities.

Whether someone can allege discrimination in not being offered employment on the basis of possession of a unique or rare ability, e.g., a photographic memory that would compromise corporate documentation security, is moot and suggestive of how challenging the task of demarcating discrimination from fair practice can be. In such a case, being disqualified on the basis of an ability blurs the boundary between capability and disability.

An individual does not need to be harmed materially, psychologically or physically to experience discrimination. All that is required is to be treated unequally, unfairly or worse than others because of unjustifiable criteria of treatment.

In conformity with the U.S. Disability Discrimination Act, it is the duty of the employer of the disabled person to support the employee with aids that compensate for or otherwise accommodate the disability, e.g., to provide wheelchair access ramps or elevators. In addition to laws governing what an employer must do are directives regulating what an employer must not do, e.g., refuse to hire or to fire an employee because of a disability.

Other nations, e.g., the U.K., Canada (Province of Ontario, only), Australia and Pakistan, have counterpart legislation; however, the scope and intent vary from one country to another. For example, the "Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005" primarily addresses issues of physical barriers and access for the disabled.

Those with disabilities should investigate the legislation governing disability discrimination in their home country or in any country in which they may plan to or currently work as expatriates.
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