More MS news articles for April 2001

Supreme Court to Decide Scope of ADA Once Again

The U.S. Supreme Court will examine two more cases that could impact the ADA this year; plus other news in politics, health, community, and advocacy.

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Apr. 19, 2001

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Apr. 16 to hear two cases that could affect the scope of the American with Disabilities Act and the rights of workers with disabilities.

In the first case, the justices will decide whether an injury or impairment that prevents a person from performing a limited number of tasks related to a specific job qualifies as a disability.

The case involves Ella Williams, who worked on an assembly line at a Toyota plant in Kentucky. Williams developed carpal tunnel syndrome in her wrists and tendonitis in her hands and arms after she started working at the plant in 1990.

Williams was transferred to another job, which helped, but her workload was expanded to include wiping down cars and her problems reappeared. She asked to have the new duties taken away. When Toyota refused, she sued. A federal judge threw out the case, but a U.S. appeals court disagreed, saying her physical problems fell under the ADA.

In the other case, Robert Barnett, a customer service representative with US Airways, sued after he tried to get a transfer when he hurt his back loading baggage at San Francisco International Airport in 1990. Barnett got the new job in a mailroom temporarily, but was told it would end due to the company's seniority system.

He sued in 1993, but a federal court sided with US Airways, saying the company was not obligated to set aside its seniority rules to accommodate him. But a U.S. Appeals Court said a seniority system alone does not absolve employers from seeking solutions under the ADA.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the companies' appeals and then issue rulings during their term, which starts in October.

Read more about the Supreme Court's decision here.