Skip to Content

Disability in the Workplace: Is my employer covered under the ADA?

Accessibility, Employment

By: Meaghan Kramer*

In honor of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA’s) 30 Year Anniversary, the DRAZ is posting a five-part series to educate Arizonans with disabilities about their rights at work. Today’s post is part two of this series and discusses how to determine whether your employer is subject to the ADA. 

Job applicants and employees with disabilities are protected from employment discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The ADA protects employees and prospective employees from discrimination in the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, promotions, and compensation.

Is my employer subject to the ADA?

The ADA applies to “covered employers,” which includes private employers with 15 or more employees. The ADA also applies to state and local governments, employment agencies, staffing firms, and labor unions, regardless of the number of employees. While the ADA does not apply to federal agencies, federal employees are protected by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which contains provisions very similar to those in the ADA. Employers that are owned by Indian tribes are not subject to the ADA but may be covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, or by tribal laws that protect the rights of employees with disabilities. Individuals who work for employment agencies or staffing firms may have two employers for purposes of the ADA: staffing firms and the clients to whom they assign workers

The Arizona Civil Rights Act also applies to prohibit employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against Arizonans with disabilities.

Are there any disability discrimination laws that protect employees and applicants of employers with fewer than 15 employees?

Many cities and counties have ordinances that prohibit private employers with fewer than 15 employees from discriminating against people with disabilities. For example, the cities of Phoenix, Tucson, and Tempe have anti-discrimination ordinances that cover smaller employers:

In addition to local laws, all employers that receive federal financial assistance are covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, regardless of their size.

Additional Resources

If you have questions about whether your employer is subject to the ADA or other civil rights laws related to disabilities, you can review the EEOC Fact Sheet: Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act, or contact our intake department to set up an appointment.

Stay tuned to our blog for additional Disability in the Workplace posts, which will include information about discrimination and harassment, reasonable accommodations, and the interactive process. 

*Meaghan Kramer recently joined the Phoenix office of the Disability Rights Arizona. Before joining DRAZ, Meaghan spent 9 years in private practice, where she focused on employment law and litigation.

New Resources