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In a presidential proclamation on the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), President Biden stated that the landmark civil rights law “has had a profound impact,” but the United States has “much more to do,” signaling a continued emphasis by the administration on disability discrimination.

Quick Hits

  • July 26, 2023, marks the 33rd anniversary of the landmark civil rights law, the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Nearly 9 million individuals in the United States aged 18 to 64 with a disability were employed in 2021, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA on July 26, 1990, banning discrimination against individuals with a qualifying disability on the basis of that disability. The law applies to employers with fifteen or more employees, including state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions. Under the law, employers must provide equal employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities, including in the job application process, hiring, discharge, compensation, job training, or other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

In his proclamation for the 33rd anniversary of the ADA, President Biden stated that disabled Americans are still “three times less likely to have a job” and “often earn less for doing the same work.”

According to the latest one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, 42.5 million, or 13 percent, of the total U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population had a disability in 2021, and 8.7 million aged 18 to 64 were employed. Median earnings for individuals with a disability age sixteen and older during the previous twelve months in 2021 were estimated to be $28,438 compared to $40,948 for those with no disability.

The Biden administration also announced on July 25, 2023, that it is proposing a new rule to establish new accessibility standards for state and local government online and mobile app-based services—a potential precursor to similar standards for private sector websites.

Further, the anniversary comes as regulators have been examining employers’ growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) to make employment decisions for the potential for discrimination against employees and job applicants with disabilities. Given these developments, employers may want to consider the many implications the ADA has for employers and the potential for increased scrutiny from federal regulators.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor developments and will post updates on the Disability Access, Employment Law, and Leaves of Absence blogs as additional information becomes available.

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