The Common Law of Disability Discrimination

Mark C. Weber

DePaul University College of Law

March 16, 2011

2012 Utah Law Review 429

In many cases alleging race and sex discrimination, plaintiffs append common law claims to cases asserting federal or state statutory causes of action. In other race and sex cases, plaintiffs put forward these common law claims without making any federal or state statutory claims. Less frequent, and much less frequently discussed by scholars, are common law claims for conduct constituting disability discrimination. Nevertheless, there are sound theoretical and practical reasons to develop a common law of disability discrimination.

On the theoretical side of the discussion, federal statutory disability discrimination claims are not exclusive, and the common law can both draw from and influence statutory developments. The evolution of the common law can be part of the adaptation of the social and legal environment that is needed to achieve equality for people with disabilities. Practically speaking, there are numerous obstacles to statutory disability discrimination claims; the common law may provide redress when statutory remedies are blocked. Common law claims may face difficulties of their own, however, and the law may need to be reformed to facilitate just results in common law cases.

Existing scholarship includes several prominent discussions of disability and the law of torts, but there has been little development of the most important tort and contract remedies for disability discrimination. This article seeks to contribute to the scholarly discussion by considering common law remedies for disability discrimination in a systematic way and discussing how to align the remedies more closely with the goal of protecting civil rights of individuals with disabilities.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 46

Keywords: discrimination, disability, employment, employment discrimination, disability discrimination, torts

JEL Classification: J7, K13, K31

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Date posted: March 19, 2011 ; Last revised: October 7, 2012

Suggested Citation

Weber, Mark C., The Common Law of Disability Discrimination (March 16, 2011). 2012 Utah Law Review 429. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1788239

Contact Information

Mark C. Weber (Contact Author)
DePaul University College of Law ( email )
25 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL Cook County 60604-2287
United States
312-362-8808 (Phone)
312-362-5448 (Fax)

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