Supreme Court Limits Reach Of ADA

Compiled By Jill Jusko The National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are among the groups applauding the U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous ruling Jan. 8 that an employee's carpal tunnel syndrome did not qualify her as disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In overturning the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' opinion in Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams, the U.S. Supreme Court focused on the definition of disability, saying that impairments must prevent or restrict an individual's abilities to perform tasks of "central importance to most people's daily lives," not just tasks associated with a job. Ella Williams claimed carpal tunnel syndrome prevented her from performing tasks related to her job on the automobile assembly line at Toyota and that her former employer failed to provide her with reasonable accommodation, as is required by the ADA. The court held that Williams' impairments did not meet the definition of a disability. The case was sent back to the lower court to be reconsidered. "Today's Supreme Court ruling makes it clear that the ADA is still the Americans with Disabilities Act, not the Americans with Injuries Act," says Patrick Cleary, NAM senior vice president for human resources policy and external affairs. "We are gratified that the Court's quick and unanimous decision validates our position that the original intent of the ADA should be preserved without diluting its focus on helping the disabled succeed in the workplace."

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