AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA)--Overview and basic legal analysis


AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA)--Overview and basic legal analysis

*ADA is a rare example of proactive civil rights legislation

*Applies to Unions (re: membership) as well as Employers

*Interfaces with Workers Compensation laws and FMLA/CFRA are evolving and very complex [e.g., in return-to-work situations where work-related injury may involve impairment of major life activity and/or serious medical condition]


1) Is the individual "disabled" (i.e., has a physical or mental impairment that

"substantially limits" one or more "major life activities")?

*Includes record or history of impairment, or perception of impairment

* Whether impairment "substantially" limits a major life activity is now determined with reference to mitigation measures (e.g. eyeglasses for nearsightedness, medication for hypertension, etc.; see Sutton & Hinton v. United Air Lines;

Murphy v. UPS, inter alia [U.S. Supreme Court, 1999]), under federal law

*But Jan. 2001 amendments to FEHA undo this under California State Law!

-"Substantial limitation" not required for impairment to qualify as disability

--Mitigation measures not considered in determining whether major life activity is limited

2) Is the individual "qualified" (i.e., can perform the "essential functions" of the job, with or without a "reasonable accommodation")?

a) What are the "essential" functions of the job (job analysis very important here)?

b) What is a "reasonable" accomodation? Consider ...

*Nature and cost of accommodation sought

*Resources of the employer or union

*Type of job

*Whether fundamental method of doing job would be altered

*Whether terms of collective bargaining agreement (e.g., seniority) violated