Why the US Chamber of Commerce is Wrong

Posted on 1 September 2007. Filed under: ADA Restoration Act of 2007, Advocacy, Guest Bloggers, US Chamber of Commerce |

A few days ago, I wrote about how the US Chamber of Commerce wants to block a law meant to protect the rights of Americans with disabilities to a fair chance in the work force.  Not a guaranteed job, not a license to sue employers in lieu of working hard–just a fair chance to be hired on the basis of the skills and qualifications that they are able to offer their employer.  Just a chance to be considered for their qualifications, and not rejected out of hand because of mistaken assumptions about what they supposedly “cannot do.”

I made an appeal to all lawyers and arm-chair law-hobbyists to pick apart the US Chamber of Commerce  letter and explain why they’re wrong.  One lawyer, Randy Chapman, has generously responded: THANK YOU Randy Chapman.

Read his response below.  This could be useful for anyone writing letters to the US Chamber of Commerce.  This can also be useful ammunition for anyone contacting your legislators to urge them to ignore the US Chamber of Commerce and support the ADA Restoration Act of 2007.

Randy Chapman Says:
August 28th, 2007 at 11:03 am

As a long time civil rights attorney who has practiced disability law since 1977 under Section 504 and before the ADA and since 1990 using the ADA, I think I can respond to the flawed analysis of the Chamber of Commerce.

(1) While the ADA Restoration Act does broaden the defintion of disability, this is a direct response to the courts narrowing it to the point that individuals who clearly have disabilities such as epilepsy, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS not being protected because the Supreme Court has said in Toyota v. Williams, that “substantially limits” and “major life activities” “need to be interpreted strictly to create a demanding standard for qualifying as disabled.”

Lucky you, you win the prize as by meeting a demanding standard to “qualify as disabled”. Congress never said the law should require a demanding standard. What other minority group is required to meet a “demanding standard” to be protected?

Thus, the ADA Restoration Act removes the misinterpreted “substantial limits one or more major life activities” language but still has a strict and clear defintion of what constitutes a “physical” or “mental” impairment.

Contrary to the Chamber of Commerce letter this defintion will not cover “virtually all of the entire working population in the United States.” Only those who are discriminated against on the basis of disability.

2. The fact that the ADA Restoration Act requires deference to Federal agency guidance and regulations does not remove the court system as the final decision maker. The courts will still determine the facts and apply the law, they just apply the law as defined through agency regulation. Those regulations are only adopted after lengthy study and nation wide public comment.

I’m sure there are still more criticisms that could be made about the US Chamber of Commerce letter.   If you think you can help with knowledgeable critiques, please post in the comment area below.  If it looks good, I’ll post your comments too.  Thank you.

Want to track all known blog posts about the ADA Restoration Act of 2007?  Keep checking my list: in the top navigation bar of every page at ReunifyGally, there is a link to a page entitled “On the ADA Restoration Act.”  I’m doing my best to keep it up to date.

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