Substantial Limitations: Reflections on the ADAAA
57 Pages Posted: 13 May 2011
Date Written: May 1, 2011
This Article advocates several ways to reform the American with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and its jurisprudence. It begins with the premise that the “otherwise qualified,” “reasonable accommodation,” and “undue hardship” analyses are questions that call for a focus on, respectively, the plaintiff at issue, the accommodation at issue, and the employer at issue. The article calls for the abolition of the need to demonstrate a major life activity limitation required for coverage under the statute in accommodation cases, noting that this has already effectively occurred in the context of the rest of the ADA’s antidiscrimination jurisprudence. It also suggests that the “otherwise qualified” analysis, derived from the statute, be given a stronger role in both the overall analysis and the screening of appropriate plaintiffs and cases. It further urges that the “essential functions” language in the statute’s definition of an “otherwise qualified” plaintiff be changes so as to evaluate the plaintiff’s possession of essential, necessary, or valued skills.
Without the benefit of a wealth of case law that actually applies the ADAAA to existing jurisprudence, as the ADAAA is not retroactive, this Article aims to honor the ideals, energy, and vision of Senator Kennedy, a steadfast advocate of implementing radical change to dismantle barriers and enable justice.
Keywords: Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), Edward Kennedy, reasonable accommodation, otherwise qualified, undue hardship
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