ADHD and the New Americans with Disabilities Act

Expanded Legal Recognition for Cognitive Disorders

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 2, Issue 1 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

(image by Mecklenburg County)

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 resulted from congressional findings of various forms of discrimination due to physical or mental disabilities. The original version of the ADA had significant shortcomings. In Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., the Supreme Court focused on mitigation measures to lessen the effect of a disability. In Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams, the Court sought to create a more demanding standard of qualification as disabled. The end result was a narrowed scope of protection, as evidenced in Knapp v. City of Columbus. Congress believed that these narrowed standards ran afoul of the Act‘s original intent, and set out to broaden protection through the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008. As a result, courts will no longer be permitted to use mitigating measures against the individual when evaluating disabilities, and actual knowledge of impairment is no longer necessary for one to be regarded as disabled. Though improved legal recognition of impairment from ADHD and entitlement to accommodations are expected, it remains unclear how the courts will interpret this broader scope of protection until the first case applying the broadened standards is tried.

Find the full version of this article in PDF form here.

John Heekin is J.D. candidate at Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America, 2011.


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