The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities by federal agencies, federal contractors, or programs receiving federal funds. Also referred to as the Rehab Act. Find statute text here. It is generally considered a precursor to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which passed in 1990. The ADA is broader than the Rehab Act, however, in that is applies to disabilities in public services, places of public accommodation—such as restaurants, hotels, and theaters—and also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to allow employees with disabilities to do their jobs. While narrower in its application, the standards in the Rehab Act are generally the same as those in the ADA. Both protect individuals with physical or mental disabilities that substantially limits one or more major life activities who cannot perform the essential job-related requirements without reasonable accommodation.
[Last updated in December of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]