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ADA Policy Brief Series #10: Reasonable Accommodation after Barnett

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March 5, 2003

SCOPE AND PURPOSE:

In U.S. Airways, Inc., v. Barnett, the U.S. Supreme Court finally addressed the interaction of job reassignment under the ADA and seniority systems.

This paper will examine the implications of the Barnett decision, especially in light of prior circuit court decisions on reasonable accommodation, and look at how subsequent cases are interpreting Barnett. The paper will then address some of the larger issues raised by the case; what happens when the employment and economic goals of the ADA seem to clash with already established economic priorities and expectations; who has the higher “right” to a job when demand is higher than supply? If-as the legislative history acknowledges-people with disabilities have been economically and socially marginalized for decades, how could a place be made for these millions of previously excluded people without having anyeffect on those who are already within the economic mainstream?

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An official website of the National Council on Disability