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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coverage of Contagious Diseases

Nancy Lee Jones
Legislative Attorney

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§12101 et seq., provides broad nondiscrimination protection for individuals with disabilities in employment, public services, public accommodations and services operated by private entities, transportation, and telecommunications. As stated in the act, its purpose is “to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” Due to concern about the spread of highly contagious diseases such as pandemic influenza and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), questions have been raised about the application of the ADA in such situations. Generally, individuals with serious contagious diseases would most likely be considered individuals with disabilities. However, this does not mean that an individual with a serious contagious disease would have to be hired or given access to a place of public accommodation if such an action would place other individuals at a significant risk. Such determinations are highly fact specific and the differences between the contagious diseases may give rise to differing conclusions since each contagious disease has specific patterns of transmission that affect the magnitude and duration of a potential threat to others.

Date of Report: January 10, 2011
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: RS22219
Price: $29.95

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