Laws and Legal Protections
Individuals with ADHD may seek accommodations in the workplace or in higher education to help them reach their full potential and achieve success. Although a diagnosis of ADHD is usually the first step toward finding treatments and interventions to address the symptoms of ADHD, a formal diagnosis itself does not guarantee that the adult with ADHD has the right to receive accommodations in the workplace or higher education setting. This section provides an overview of the legal requirements and protections afforded individuals appropriately diagnosed with ADHD.*
*Information found here on legal protections and other materials produced by the National Resource Center on ADHD: A Program of CHADD are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.
Americans with Disabilities―RA and ADA (including ADAAA)
Two federal laws―the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), including the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA)―generally prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in higher education and the workplace. Some state laws may go further than these federal laws in prohibiting discrimination. Adults with ADHD may sometimes be eligible for protection and accommodations in higher education and the workplace under these state laws.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that requires certain employers to provide eligible employees 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:
- for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee
- for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care
- to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) with a serious health condition
- to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition
For employees and family members affected by ADHD, FMLA may be an option to care for unique needs related to ADHD if criteria are met for ADHD to be considered a serious health condition as defined under the law. Consult your employer’s FMLA policy and/or your human resources department for more information about FMLA. You may also wish to reference the US Department of Labor’s webpage which includes numerous fact sheets on this topic.
Finding an Attorney or Legal Advocate
Sometimes people with ADHD experience discrimination or difficulty receiving disability services or accommodations either at work, school or other settings and may need to enlist the help of an attorney or legal advocate to secure these services or accommodations. When looking for an attorney or legal advocate, it is important to find one with experience in disability rights. Below are some suggestions on how to find an attorney who has experience with disability law:
American Bar Association (ABA) Directory of State and Local Bar Associations
Contact your local bar association and seek out a lawyer specializing in disability rights.
National Disability Rights Network (aka Protection and Advocacy & Client Assistance)
The National Disability Rights Network (aka P&A/CAP System) comprises the nationwide network of congressionally mandated, legally based disability rights agencies. They can provide legal advocacy for persons with disabilities in certain civil―not criminal―legal matters.
Special Needs Alliance (SNA)
A national, nonprofit organization of attorneys dedicated to the practice of disability and public benefits law. Individuals with disabilities, their families and their advisers rely on the SNA to connect them with nearby attorneys who focus their practices in the disability law arena.
Legal Services Corporation (LSC)
LSC is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation which funds 134 independent nonprofit legal aid programs providing legal assistance to low-income individuals and families throughout the United States.
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)
The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) is an independent, nonprofit peer-to-peer network of attorneys, advocates, parents and related professionals dedicated to protecting and enforcing legal and civil rights of students with disabilities and their families at the national, state and local levels.