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Requirements of ADA and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

As most Los Angeles employers are aware, there are a variety of federal and local laws that provide different forms of protection for individuals with disabilities.  Each law has its own nuances and mechanisms for protection, as well as requirements for ‘action’ under said law. Employers should discuss these in depth with their legal counsel.

One law that is always a hot topic among employers and employees across the country? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ASA). Recently, the United States Supreme Court declined to review two decisions by California courts regarding the ADA.  These cases, Tustin Unified School District v. K.M. and Poway Unified School District v. D.H., highlight the different protections available to individuals with disabilities, and the separate requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for Los Angeles employers to consider.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a wide-ranging federal civil rights law designed to protect individuals with a recognized disability from discrimination.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (commonly abbreviated as “IDEA”) governs how states and public agencies provide services to students with disabilities. While IDEA may not apply to privately owned businesses, as an employer, it is important to be familiar with the potential interaction of various state and federal laws (such as the FMLA and ADA as discussed in this post).

Both cases mentioned above involved deaf or hard of hearing students seeking Communication Access Realtime Translation (commonly abbreviated as “CART”), a service for hard of hearing students which allows for a stenographer to appear in a classroom and transcribe lessons on a screen.  In both cases, the California schools that the students attended decided that the students were not entitled to CART services.  The school districts’ positions in both cases was that the school was not required, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, to provide CART services when the student was already part of a valid individualized education program under federal special education law such as IDEA.

The courts disagreed with the school districts’ position stating that in certain situations, a school district may be required, under the ADA, to provide services above and beyond what IDEA requires.

As a business owner in California, it is important to be aware of relevant state and federal laws, specifically ones that apply to an employee’s ability to file a discrimination or harassment claim. For more information on the ADA, the FMLA, the ACA, and others, contact the experienced Los Angeles employment lawyers at Hart, Watters & Carter today.