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After 17 Years, A.D.A. Goals Unmet

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July 26, 2007

The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 with the goal of eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. It was designed to give people with disabilities a chance to be judged fairly, so everyone wanting a job had equal opportunity to get one. Jim Moench with the North Dakota Disabilities Advocacy Consortium says the courts have created a Catch-22 situation by allowing employers to say a person is "too disabled" to do the job, but not "disabled enough" to be protected by the law.

"In the chipping away at the promise of the A.D.A., some of the cases that have occurred discourage people with disabilities from even seeking employment."

Moench notes that on the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act being signed into law by the first President Bush, an update to the law called the A.D.A. Restoration Act is being introduced in Congress.

"The intent is to create a level playing field in the workplace and restore the full promise of the law, which has never been fully fulfilled."

He explains that the ADA Restoration Act stops courts from requiring an individual to first prove that he or she is disabled "enough" to challenge discrimination, and it restores the right to be judged solely on one's qualifications for the job.

Dick Layman/Eric Mack, Public News Service - ND