Disability Laws

According to the US Department of Labor, five federal laws protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination in employment and the job application process:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • The Rehabilitation Act
  • The Workforce Investment Act
  • The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act
  • The Civil Service Reform Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, state and local government services, and telecommunications. Two sections of the ADA relate to employment:

  • Title I: Employment prohibits covered employers (with 15 or more employees) from discriminating against people with disabilities in all employment-related activities, including hiring, pay, benefits, firing and promotions.
  • Title II: State and Local Governments protects people with disabilities from discrimination in state and local government services, programs and activities.

Which laws apply to my business?
The US Department of Labor’s website (http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/laws.htm) provides a checklist for employers to determine which laws apply to their businesses.

Are there any tax credits that encourage employment of people with disabilities?
According to the US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission:

The Internal Revenue Code includes several provisions aimed at making businesses more accessible to people with disabilities:

  • Small Business Tax Credit (Internal Revenue Code Section 44: Disabled Access Credit)
    Small businesses with either $1,000,000 or less in revenue or 30 or fewer full-time employees may take a tax credit of up to $5,000 annually for the cost of providing reasonable accommodations such as sign language interpreters, readers, materials in alternative format (such as Braille or large print), the purchase of adaptive equipment, the modification of existing equipment, or the removal of architectural barriers.
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit (Internal Revenue Code Section 51)
    Employers who hire certain targeted low-income groups, including individuals referred from vocational rehabilitation agencies and individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be eligible for an annual tax credit of up to $2,400 for each qualifying employee who works at least 400 hours during the tax year. Additionally, a maximum credit of $1,200 may be available for each qualifying summer youth employee.
  • Architectural/Transportation Tax Deduction (Internal Revenue Code Section 190 Barrier Removal)
    This annual deduction of up to $15,000 is available to businesses of any size for the costs of removing barriers for people with disabilities, including the following: providing accessible parking spaces, ramps, and curb cuts; providing wheelchair-accessible telephones, water fountains, and restrooms; making walkways at least 48 inches wide; and making entrances accessible.

Employers should check with their accountants or tax advisors to determine eligibility for these incentives or visit the Internal Revenue Service's website for more information. Similar state and local tax incentives may be available.

For additional information, on disability laws and employment:

To learn about how DSB works with businesses to employ people who are blind and have low vision, email bizsolutions@dsb.wa.gov or call us toll-free at 800-552-7103.