Two laws in Maine protect people with disabilities. Both laws make it illegal for government agencies to discriminate against people with disabilities. Government agencies must also take steps to make it easier for people with disabilities to use and enjoy public services and benefits. The first law is the ADA, which applies all over the United States. The second is the Maine Human Rights Act.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in many areas, including:
The ADA protects you if you are a "qualified individual on the basis of a disability.”
Under this law, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of your major life activities.
A disability substantially limits a major life activity if:
A disability that is treated with medicine or corrected by an aid or device substantially limits you if you need the medicine, aid, or device to function. The only exception is normal glasses or contact lenses.
A major life activity includes:
It also includes major bodily functions like:
The ADA also protects you if someone thinks you have a disability, or treats you like you are disabled, even if you are not limited in any way.
A government agency may have to:
For more information on agencies that may help you with ADA questions, check the ADA Information Services web site.
The MHRA makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in:
"Public Accommodation" means:
The MHRA gives people with disabilities the right to full and equal enjoyment of these public businesses and services.
The MHRA is like the ADA. But the MHRA covers more people . Under this state law you are disabled if:
Like the ADA, a person with a disability must be qualified to use the public place, program, or activity. A person must meet the eligibility standards for the place, program, or activity.
The MHRA requires state and local governments to give qualified people with disabilities equal access to all public places, programs, and activities.
People with disabilities must be able to use the same buildings, and join in the same activities as others. Separate facilities are illegal.
You may need to request a reasonable accommodation to get the equal access. For example, if you need an ASL interpreter or other service, you may ask for this in advance so that the agency can arrange for the accommodation.
You have choices:
You must file a complaint with a federal agency within 180 days of the discrimination. You must file a Charge of Discrimination with the Maine Human Rights Commission within 300 days of the discrimination. If you think the discrimination is ongoing, you have to file within 300 days of the most recent discrimination.
The best approach is often to file a complaint with:
U.S. Department of Justice
Maine Human Rights Commission
V/TTY: 711 (Maine Relay)
For legal help in Maine, you may also contact:
Disability Rights Center of Maine
Eligibility requirements apply. Even if they can't take your case, they may be able to tell you how to file a complaint. They may also refer you to a private attorney who could be paid by the defendant if you win your case.
PTLA # 841