The Story of Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc: Narrowing the Reach of the Americans with Disabilities Act
EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION STORIES, Chapter 10, Joel William Friedman, ed., Foundation Press Publishing, 2006
46 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2006
In Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the impact of mitigating measures, such as medicine and assistive devices, must be taken into consideration in determining an individual's disability status under the Americans with Disabilities Act. By that ruling, the Court effectively invalidated a contrary EEOC interpretive guideline as an impermissible interpretation of the ADA. This paper, which will be published by Foundation Press as a book chapter in EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION STORIES, chronicles the course of the Sutton litigation and dissects the landmark Supreme Court decision. The chapter also explores the story underlying the case and the long-term impact of the Court's decision. In terms of the latter, the Sutton decision leaves a dramatic legacy: stemming the ADA's litigation tide, narrowing the class of protected individuals in a questionable manner, undercutting the force of agency interpretation, and reshaping the focus of American disability discrimination law.
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