This article explores a series of Supreme Court decisions making it more difficult for disabled individuals to assert rights under the employment discrimination provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Court first held that ADA claimants must have their disabilities considered in their corrected or medicated condition. So long as they are able to use prostheses, hearing aids, medication, or other means to control their conditions, they are not to be considered disabled. The Court further held that persons will only be considered disabled if they have conditions that severely limit them with respect to a major life activity. These limitations must be so substantial, that if they qualify as disabled, they will most likely be unable to demonstrate that they are otherwise qualified individuals who can perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation. To demonstrate that they are regarded as disabled - a second part of the definition of disabled - they must show that the employer regards them as having a condition that, if they had it, would substantially limit them with respect to a major life activity. If employers merely refuse to hire them due to provincial stereotypes of non-disabling conditions, they will not be covered. The article suggests that the definition of disabled individuals should be expanded to include less debilitating conditions that employers may use to deny positions to otherwise qualified persons.
GW Paper Series
GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 274; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 274
Charles B. Craver, The Judicial Disabling of the Employment Discrimination Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 18 Lab. Law. 417 (2003).