As of July 26, 1994, employers with 15 or more employees have been subject to the labor market provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employers with 25 or more employees became subject to the provisions in 1992. For people with disabilities, the ADA gives civil rights protections similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. This book focuses exclusively on the labor market provisions of the ADA. Its goal is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the current labor market experience of American workers with disabilities and an assessment of the impact the ADA has had on that experience.
The ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. It applies to recruitment, advertising, tenure, layoff, leave, fringe benefits, and all other employment-related activities. It is hoped that, by breaking down the labor market barriers that Americans with disabilities have faced in the past, we will all benefit from an untapped source of productivity, the resulting increase in purchasing power, and a simultaneous savings on disability payments.
Most previous studies have either focused on only one dimension of the labor market experience (e.g., wages or employment levels), evaluated that experience at only one point in time, or focused on the labor supply impact of disability policies. However, one's labor market experience has many dimensions; this research explores the labor market experience across those dimensions and across time. The result is a more complete picture of what Americans with disabilities can expect as participants in the labor market and of whether this experience has been affected by the passage of the ADA. Given that policies such as the ADA are designed to affect the lives of groups of individuals, the experience of disabled workers as a whole is evaluated rather than the experience of any one person.
Much of the earlier research on workers with disabilities relates to issues of labor supply, such as policies that shape workforce participation decisions of the disabled, circumstances that improve the chances of injured workers returning to work, or details of the special needs of the disabled (e.g., access to health care, personal assistance) that might hinder their entrance into the workforce. While the analyses contained in this book do not ignore labor supply issues, the focus is on more direct evidence of the existence of and changes in barriers to a positive labor market experience. Barriers are de-