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2009 Employment Decisions Under the ADA Title I-Survey Update

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This is the thirteenth most up-to-date annual survey of employment cases brought in federal court under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title I, 42 U.S.C. §12111-117. As in the previous surveys, we included disability-based retaliation claims brought under Title V of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a). It also is the first survey to include court decisions that were issued after January 1, 2009, the effective date of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADA-AA), Pub. L. No. 110-325, 122 Stat. 3553 (2008). However, because the new law is not retroactive, the expanded definition of "disability" did not have an impact this year. In fact, the percentage of employee wins in 2009 - 2.6 percent - was among the lowest in the history of the survey.

Methodology

We followed the same methodology employed in all the surveys, beginning with the first one, which covered cases from 1992-97. The results of this latest survey are based on the total number of 2009 cases - including this issue - that have been summarized and appear in the Mental & Physical Disability Law Reporter. The cases - both reported and unreported - come from the Westlaw database. We categorize court decisions into one of three categories: (1) employer victories; (2) employee victories; and (3) no final resolution at the stage in which the case was reviewed for the survey. Employers "win" if the employee's case is dismissed for whatever reason (e.g., employer's motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment is granted), or the employer wins on the merits. Employees "win" only if they prevail on the merits. No final resolution occurs when a preliminary matter is resolved, but the merits are yet to be decided, such as with summary judgments in which the employee prevails, or pretrial litigation in which...