Who is a person with a disability under the ADA? Mitigating circumstances, the US Supreme Court, and the case of diabetes


Nine years after enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, three Supreme Court decisions, known as the Sutton trilogy, required that mitigating circumstances be considered in determining whether or not a particular individual has a disability under the statute. This article evaluates how the Sutton trilogy has altered the nature and scope of employment discrimination experienced by Americans with diabetes. Allegations of workplace discrimination filed by Americans with diabetes with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were examined. Pre-Sutton allegations (n=5644) were compared and contrasted with Post-Sutton allegations (n=5793) on specified characteristics including industry, issue, and rate of merit resolution. Findings fail to support the position that the Sutton trilogy deterred Americans with diabetes from registering formal complaints, but it may have emboldened employers to engage in more widespread and egregious levels of discrimination. © 2006 IOS Press. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation

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