Winning Summary Judgment in Employment ADA Cases: What Have Plaintiffs Done for You Lately? How to Defend Employers against Claims Brought under the ADA

By Ingram, Bradford B. | Defense Counsel Journal, July 2005 | Go to article overview

Winning Summary Judgment in Employment ADA Cases: What Have Plaintiffs Done for You Lately? How to Defend Employers against Claims Brought under the ADA


Ingram, Bradford B., Defense Counsel Journal


DEFENDING employers against claims brought by current and former employees under The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") (1) requires a detailed understanding of ADA law and your client's business, as well as the ability to understand medical issues.

Disability discrimination charges continue to be a significant part of employers' litigation landscape. Between 1992 and 2003, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") received nearly 190,000 disability complaints, and employers paid monetary benefits at this administrative level totaling $481.3 million. (2)

This article focuses on how to win ADA cases for your employer client and examines cases that define disability under the ADA. It further explains what must happen to trigger the Act for plaintiffs. Additionally, the article outlines the necessary preparation required to successfully depose plaintiffs, and it discusses case authorities that explain what constitutes "a substantial limitation of a major life activity" and how to assess the limitation's impact on plaintiffs. The article also examines deposition strategies and plaintiffs' dilemmas surrounding disability claims. Finally, it addresses the importance of medical evidence as a key in winning summary judgment.

After you receive a disability discrimination complaint filed by your client's employee, your goal is to obtain an order from the U.S. District Court granting the defendant's (your client's) motion for summary judgment. The first step down the path to summary judgment success is to determine whether the plaintiff qualifies as an individual with a disability.

A. Determine Whether Plaintiffs Are ADA Disabled

1. What Definitions of Disability Apply?

Disability has been defined in many ways. Black's Law Dictionary defines disability as "[t]he inability to perform some function; an objectively measurable condition of impairment, physical or mental." (3) Webster defines disability as, "[t]he inability to do something; condition of being disabled; deprivation or lack of physical, intellectual or emotional capacity or fitness." (4)

Under workers' compensation statutes, like the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, (5) disability can include both temporary and permanent impairments. These statutes refer to disability in terms of temporary and permanent loss of use and focus on a worker's ability to work. Disability is also defined by the nature of the diagnosis, the existence of a surgical procedure, or a mere physical restriction. Each of these distinct definitions of disability is associated with a statutory purpose assigned to each piece of legislation. Workers' compensation statutes are designed as remedial legislation to compensate injured workers and restore them to employment.

The definition of disability under the ADA is also associated with its specific purpose, which is to assure the equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic sufficiency of individuals with disabilities. (6) The ADA's definition of disability specifically requires a person to be seriously disabled before the Act is triggered. The ADA requires: (1) physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual; (2) a record of such impairment; or (3) being regarded as having such an impairment. (7)

Many plaintiffs and plaintiffs' counsel view disability in terms of more common notions of disability, as those definitions referred to above. In addition to general notions of disability and the statutory definitions, plaintiffs also have a very personal and subjective view of their own disablement. Their view is very often broad, self-serving, and self-defined. ADA disability is not defined by subjective views of what people can and cannot do or their thoughts about what they choose to do. Neither is the ADA definition as simple as what people are able to do before a specific event and what they choose to do after a certain date, as is true in workers' compensation cases or under other disability provisions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Winning Summary Judgment in Employment ADA Cases: What Have Plaintiffs Done for You Lately? How to Defend Employers against Claims Brought under the ADA
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.