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Product Information A Promising Start: Preliminary Analysis of Court Decisions Under the ADA Amendments Act

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This report from the National Council on Disability (NCD) is a review and analysis of the case law that has developed under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) as to whether the ADAAA has achieved its intended goals.

In 2004, NCD released "Righting the ADA," a report that analyzed all of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as of that time. Since enactment of the ADA in 1990, courts had made substantial changes to the law, including narrowing the definition of disability so extensively, that many people with disabilities were no longer protected from disability-discrimination. In most ADA employment discrimination cases, courts focused primarily on whether an individualís impairment constituted a disability, often never reaching the question of whether disability discrimination had occurred. The ADAAA was signed into law on September 25, 2008 and went into effect January 1, 2009. It emphasizes that the definition of disability should be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA.

From the current projectís inception, NCD recognized that not enough time has elapsed since the ADAAA took effect for the drawing of firm and definitive conclusions, but was convinced that present analysis of court decisions rendered to date would produce a sense of the lawís current status and provide a preliminary bellwether of trends and directions in which the law is heading.

The central message from the review of the case law is that, in the decisions rendered so far, the ADAAA has made a significant positive difference for plaintiffs in ADA lawsuits. This does not necessarily mean that more plaintiffs are winning their disability discrimination suits. Often the poor quality of the pleadings is resulting in cases being dismissed on procedural grounds - before the alleged discriminatory conduct of the employer is ever addressed. The report includes recommendations on guidance and technical assistance to address some of these procedural issues.

-Information taken directly from the "Letter of Transmittal" and "Executive Summary" of the report downloaded online on 8/5/13 (www.ncd.gov/publications/2013/07232013)
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