by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 21, 2001
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion
Daily Express Email News Service.
WASHINGTON, DC--The U.S. Supreme Court this morning ruled that Congress
overstepped its bounds when it decided in 1990 to allow state workers to use
the Americans with Disabilities Act to file discrimination lawsuits against
In the case known as "Board of Trustees of University of Alabama v. Garrett"
the high court voted 5-4 in favor of states' 11th Amendment rights, thereby
limiting the scope of the ADA. The decision punctuates a recent trend toward
restricting the power of the federal government and expanding the power of
individual states. It also strikes a blow to certain disability rights
protections under the anti-discrimination law.
The case involved Patricia Garrett, who was promoted in 1992 to Director of
OB/GYN/Neonatal Services at the University of Alabama after being on the
staff for 15 years. Two years later, Garrett was diagnosed with breast
cancer for which she underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy
treatment. While she completed her therapy, her employer threatened to
transfer her out of her position, claimed Garrett.
When she returned from medical leave, she was demoted to a job with less
responsibility and less pay.
Garrett sued, alleging that the university discriminated against her because
of her disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. She also claimed that her demotion was
retaliatory, therefore violating the Family Medical Leave Act.
The state of Alabama argued that states are immune to this kind of lawsuit.
Citing the 11th Amendment, Alabama reasoned that Congress does not have the
authority to impose upon the states laws such as the ADA.
In 1999, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the State of Alabama.
Garrett's case was combined with that of Milton Ashe, who had filed a
similar suit against the Alabama Department of Youth Services. Their
combined case was presented to the Supreme Court last October.
The Supreme Court yesterday agreed with the Appeals Court, stating that
Garrett and Ashe cannot sue the state for damages..
Story from Associated Press
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