The Americans with Disabilities Act is to the disabled what the Civil Rights Act was to disenfranchised and underemployed blacks in the 1960s. Each group fought for a federal law to even the playing field and help its members participate fully in the country’s economic and social life.
In practice, however, the ADA proved much less potent a remedy for employment discrimination than Title VII, due in part to U.S. Supreme Court decisions that chipped away at the definition of “disabled” until it no longer included people with conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, cancer and diabetes. As a result, plaintiffs lost 97% of ADA employment cases that went to trial in 2004, for example.
In response, Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (the ADAAA), which took effect in January 2009. The law expressly rejected several Supreme Court decisions and clarified and broadened the ADA’s protections, bringing it closer in li...(register to read more)