171887 Establishing the Boundaries of Disability and Work: Factors Influencing Circuit Court of Appeals Decisions Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Monday, October 27, 2008: 2:45 PM

Michael H. Fox, ScD , Department of Health Policy and Management and the Research and Training Center on Independent Living, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS
Amanda Reichard, PhD , KU Research and Training Center on Independent Living and University of Kansas Medical Center, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was a political compromise whose language invited wide interpretation. Many now feel that its promise as significant civil rights legislation has gone unfulfilled. Title I, protecting persons with disabilities against employment discrimination, has been the object of intense scrutiny, leading to speculation that some court decisions, notably the Sutton Trilogy, have made it virtually impossible for plaintiffs to hold employers accountable.

This paper summarizes issues surrounding Title I of the ADA and uses appellate court data for 1995 - 2005 to test the following two research questions:

- What factors appear to influence plaintiff wins under Title I of the ADA?

- What is the relative importance of factors leading to plaintiff wins?

We developed a predictive model for plaintiff wins using court, plaintiff and defendant characteristics. Overall, 29.3% of court cases found in favor of plaintiffs. Yet findings point to a significant advantage for plaintiffs if litigation is tried in Circuits 2, 3, 9 or 10; if judges are appointed by Democrats; and if suits are filed against large companies. Understanding factors that contribute to plaintiff wins is important to help develop policies and practices that promote the intent of the ADA.

Learning Objectives:
- Recognize the goals and purpose of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act - Understand factors that influence federal court decisions related to employment and disability - Evaluate selected arguments in which defendants and plaintiffs have won under Title I of the ADA - Analyze policy issues related to factors determining plaintiff wins under the ADA

Keywords: Disability Policy, Disability Studies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was one of the key personnel on this project, I have MS in Public Health, and a PhD, and I have multiple years of experience in the area of disability, policy, and health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

See more of: Disability and Health Policy
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