Employment Discrimination School, Part 5 (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act, also called the ADA, was not enacted until 1990. It prohibits discrimination against a qualified individual on the basis of disability.

The ADA’s primary operative provisions are structured very differently than those of Title VII and the ADA. The ADA has a general anti-discrimination provision, 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a), which provides as follow.

(a) General rule

No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

42 U.S.C. § 12112. This section is then followed by 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b), which is a seven-part provision that provides further descriptions of and definitions for the prohibited acts. Importantly, the ADA also requires accommodation of disability in certain circumstances.

When interpreting the discrimination provisions of the ADA, courts often use the proof structures developed under Title VII. However, given the courts’ willingness to read the statutory provisions of Title VII and the ADEA as requiring separate analytical frameworks, it is always worth exploring whether the ADA requires different treatment from the other discrimination statutes.

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