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Supreme Court Decisions Interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
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September 17, 2002


In the last few years, the Supreme Court has issued a number of decisions that have dramatically changed the way ADA is interpreted, in most cases, contrary to what Congress intended. One decision in particular, Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356 (2001), devastatingly stripped the right of state workers to sue their employers for money damages for violations of Title I of ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities. In response, NCD convened a series of meetings with disability policy experts to gain their assessment of the breadth and nature of the impact of Supreme Court decisions on ADA and other key civil rights laws.

This paper is intended to increase public awareness of ADA as interpreted by the Supreme Court and to give policymakers and ADA stakeholders an overview of ADA issues addressed by the Supreme Court, a synopsis of the decisions, and the significant implications of each decision in helping or hindering implementation of ADA. Finally, this paper is intended to assist in the examination of the work that remains to be done to realize the law’s promise.

An official website of the National Council on Disability