Petitioner argues that employees of the State of Alabama recover money damages by reason of the State’s failure to comply with the provisions of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits certain employers, including the States, from discriminating against a qualified individual with a disability. To this end, the Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. The ADA can apply to the States only to the extent that the statute is appropriate section 5 legislation.
Can employees of the State of Alabama recover money damages by reason of the State’s failure to comply with the provisions of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990?
Yes, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 does except employers from the reasonable accommodation requirement where the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business of such covered entity. Yet, even with this exception, the accommodation duty far exceeds what is constitutionally required in that it makes unlawful a range of alternate responses that would be reasonable but fall short of imposing an undue burden upon the employer.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 makes it the employer’s duty to prove that it would suffer an undue burden, instead of requiring, as the Constitution does, that the complaining party negate reasonable bases for the employer’s decision. The ADA also forbids utilizing standards, criteria, or methods of administration that disparately impact the disabled, without regard to whether such conduct has a rational basis. Though disparate impact may be relevant evidence of racial discrimination, such evidence alone is insufficient even where the Fourteenth Amendment subjects state action to strict scrutiny. Congress is the final authority as to desirable public policy, but to authorize private individuals to recover money damages against the States, there must be a pattern of discrimination by the States which violates the Fourteenth Amendment, and the remedy imposed by Congress must be congruent and proportional to the targeted violation. Those requirements are not met here, and to uphold the Act’s application to the States would allow Congress to rewrite the Fourteenth Amendment law.