March 2009 Archives

March 27, 2009

ADA Amendments Good News for Individuals with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act 42 U.S.C. Sec 12102, et seq. (ADA) was first enacted in 1990 prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in employment (Title I), in public services (Title II), in public accommodations (Title III) and in telecommunications (Title IV). 

After its enactment however, United Stated Supreme Court cases significantly limited the ADA's effectiveness in prohibiting discrimination based on disabilities.  Based on narrow court interpretations of the ADA, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 was signed into law on September 25, 2008 to make the ADA consistent with its original intent of "providing a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities" and to "provide broad coverage." 

wheelchair sign.jpgSeveral changes in the ADA as a result of the new Amendment are discussed below. 

One of the largest changes made by the ADA Amendments was to the definition of a "disability" under the ADA.  In Sutton v. United Air Lines Inc. (1999), the Supreme court held that in order to determine whether an impairment was a "disability" under the ADA, consideration must be given to mitigating measures available.  Mitigating measures could include a variety of items such as medication, equipment, prosthetics, mobility devices, hearing aids, and glasses.  When taking into consideration these mitigating measures, many impairments were not considered to substantially limit a major life activity and thus were not considered disabilities under the ADA. 

The ADA Amendments state that mitigating measures other than "ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses" shall not be considered in assessing whether an employee has a disability for purposes of the ADA. 

Other changes made to the ADA include:
  • expanding the definition of "major life activities"
  • clarification that an impairment that is in remission or episodic still qualifies as a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active
  • changing the definition of "regarded as" to no longer requiring the impairment to substantially limit a major life activity

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March 18, 2009

Indiana Sherriff Sued By Department of Justice For Sexual Harrassment, Hostile Work Environment and Retaliation

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit against Harrison County Indiana Sheriff ,G. Michael Deatrick, under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found probable cause that Sheriff Deatrick sexually harassed, created a hostile work environment and retaliated against two female employees of Harrison County.

Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act an employer is prohibited from discriminating against an employee on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin and age. Also an employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee for availing themselves of the protections afforded by Title VII.

The two female employees, Deanna Decker and Melissa Graham, sued Sheriff Deatrick and Harrison County, Indiana in 2008 for a violation of their civil rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The two female employees are represented by Charles W. Miller of Miller & Falkner.

To see more information regarding the Department of Justice lawsuit please visit: Judge Rules DOJ Lawsuit Against Sheriff May Proceed

The Corydon Democrat: Feds File Suit Against Deatrick, County

The Chicago Tribune: Feds say Harrison Co. sheriff harassed 2 workers