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Master's Professional Reports Abstract

Tort Law and the Americans with Disabilities Act: Assessing the Need for a Policy Realignment.
Gillum, Jon Lelton
REPORT 2002 G419 Public Affairs Library.

Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act allows an employer to discriminate against an otherwise qualified person with a disability if that person poses a "direct threat" to the health and safety of others. Although Congress may have intended this defense to be an unambiguous protection to a charge of discrimination under the ADA, the meaning and scope of the defense has proven to be anything but clear. This professional report examines the ambiguities of the "direct threat" defense and the tensions the defense raises creates with modern tort law. The report explores previous judicial interpretations, critiques those solutions, and proposes a slate of policy reforms. In doing so, the report emphasizes the importance of tort principles in the interpretation of the "direct threat" defenseˇan analytical approach largely lacking in existing scholarly and judicial discourse.