The U.S. Supreme Court's decision that the PGA Tour must allow disabled golfer Casey Martin to ride in a cart during tournaments isn't based on employment law, but that doesn't mean you can ignore it.
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires "public accommodations" to be accessible and takes a broad view of what that includes.
The High Court said the PGA's "fatal flaw" was failing to consider Martin's personal circumstances in deciding whether to grant the accommodation. (PGA Tour Inc. v. Martin, 00-24) That's one area where Title III resembles Title I, which bars employment discrimination and requires an individual assessment of the situation.
Under Title III, you must consider whether a disabled customer's requested modification:
- Is reasonable.
- Is necessary for the individual.
- Would "fundamentally alter" what is being offered, in this case the competition.
Because of a circulatory disorder, walking causes Martin pain, fatigue and medical risks. A judge decided the fatigue Martin suffers even when using a cart is greater than other competitors face from walking the entire course.
The 7-2 decision also rejected the PGA's claim that Martin wasn't a "client or customer" protected by Title III, but an independent contractor who wouldn't even be covered by Title I.
For more advice on complying with the ADA, call the U.S. Justice Department's ADA information line at (800) 514-0301 or visit www.usdoj. gov/disabilities.htm.
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