Disabled Law

Published July 6, 2011

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a classic example of the unintended consequences of Congressional good intentions.

The purpose of the law was to prevent employer discrimination against the disabled. But the definition of “disability,” as applied by the courts, included not just physical handicaps but was expanded to include “emotional, mental and behavioral ones,” which employers are required to “accommodate.”

These include:

  • A 911 operator who fell asleep on the job due to narcolepsy.
  • A janitor convicted twice on criminal charges of theft from offices she was tasked with cleaning.
  • An employee whose disorder repeatedly caused her to come to work late or not at all.
  • An employee with bipolar disorder who threw her “performance improvement plan” across the room, uttered profanities, and kicked her desk, saying: “They’ll regret this.”

Source: Walter Olson, “My Disability Made Me Do It,” Cato Institute, July 6, 2011