The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bars states from discriminating against people with disabilities. However, the Supreme Court ruled that states are immune from such lawsuits, and disabled employees cannot sue for damages under the ADA. However, states can waive their sovereign immunity.
There is a bill S.1119/ A.7121 in the state legislature that would waive the State’s sovereign immunity, allowing disabled employees to sue for damages in federal court if they have faced discrimination. The bill passed the Assembly and needs to be moved so it can be brought to the Senate floor for a vote. In order to show strong support, we need more co-sponsors!
What You Can Do:
Call your State Senator today and ask they co-sponsor S.1119 which would waive the State’s sovereign immunity to claims under the ADA.
Call the Senate switchboard at 518-455-2800 and ask to be connected to your State Senator.
Say: “Hello, my name is [your name] and I am calling to request Senator [your Senator’s name] to co-sponsor S.1119. This bill would waive the State’s sovereign immunity so state employees with disabilities can sue in federal court if they have faced discrimination. This would provide the same protections to state employees that they would have if they worked anywhere else. With only a few days left in session, will you please sign onto S.1119 today?”
In the case of the University of Alabama v. Garrett (2001), the United States Supreme Court ruled that suits in federal court by state employees to recover money damages under Title I of the ADA were barred by the Eleventh Amendment, although employees could still sue for injunctive relief. This creates an unfair and unjust disparity between states and any other type of employer. Businesses, schools, counties, towns, and villages cannot violate the employment provisions of the ADA without the prospect of being held responsible in a court of law. State governments should be held to the same standards of conduct.
The Supreme Court’s decision in University of Alabama v. Garrett was a grievous misinterpretation of the ADA that denies essential rights to a segment of the population with disabilities. The Supreme Court has similarly barred individuals from suing the State under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).