EMPLOYMENT LAW: "SENIORITY RULES": DISABLED EMPLOYEES' RIGHTS UNDER THE ADA GIVE WAY TO MORE SENIOR EMPLOYEES--U.S. AIRWAYS, INC. V. BARNETT Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2003 William Mitchell Law Review
William Mitchell Law Review

EMPLOYMENT LAW: "SENIORITY RULES": DISABLED EMPLOYEES' RIGHTS UNDER THE ADA GIVE WAY TO MORE SENIOR EMPLOYEES--U.S. AIRWAYS, INC. V. BARNETT

2003

29 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 1481

Author

Rebecca Pirius+

Excerpt



I. Introduction
 
In 1990, Congress enacted one the century's most significant pieces of civil rights legislation. The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") 1 ambitiously seeks equal opportunity and full participation in society for disabled individuals. 2 Title I of the ADA focuses specifically on equal opportunity and full participation in the workplace. 3 To achieve its laudable goals, the ADA, among other things, places an affirmative obligation on employers to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with known disabilities. 4 Reasonable accommodation includes reassignment to a vacant position, job restructuring, modified work schedules, and other similar accommodations. 5

The ADA's reasonable accommodation provision is a powerful and unique tool for disabled individuals. 6 It not only requires employers to treat disabled and non-disabled employees alike, but also requires the employer to make individualized changes to its workplace. 7 Unfortunately, over time, the reasonable accommodation provision has lost its effectiveness through judicial decisions. 8 This note specifically discusses how courts have undermined the ADA by allowing seniority systems to trump reasonable accommodation.

While seniority systems play a significant role in the American workplace, 9 their purpose clashes with anti-discrimination legislation, such as the ADA and Title VII 10 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). 11 Seniority systems seek to retain employees long-term by giving employees increasing job security and preferential employment treatment directly proportional to seniority accrued. 12 Such a system maintains the historical status quo of relegating and excluding minorities and ...
 
 
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