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9 PJI 1.6 | Third Circuit (US)
HB-PJI-CA03-09S0106 Download


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COMMENT Disparate impact claims are cognizable under the ADA. Raytheon Co. v. Hernandez, 540 U.S. 44, 50 (2003) (“Both disparate-treatment and disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the ADA.”). See 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b) (defining "discriminate" to include "utilizing standards, criteria, or methods of administration... that have the effect of discrimination on the basis of disability" and "using qualification standards, employment tests or other selection criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an individual with a disability"). No instruction is provided on disparate impact claims, however, because a right to jury trial is not provided under the ADA for such claims. 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(a)(1) provides that in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 (Title VII), a plaintiff may recover compensatory and punitive damages, but not if the allegation is that an employment practice is unlawful “because of its disparate impact.” Thus under Title VII, disparate impact claimants cannot recover damages, and therefore there is no right to jury trial for such claims. See Pollard v. Wawa Food Market, 366 F. Supp. 2d 247 (E.D. Pa. 2005) (striking a demand for a jury trial on a disparate impact claim brought under Title VII). The same result is mandated for ADA disparate impact claims, because the enforcement provision of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12117 specifically provides for the same recovery in ADA actions as in Title VII actions: “The powers, remedies and procedures set forth in... [42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5] shall be the powers, remedies and procedures this title provides to... any person alleging discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of any provision of this Act... concerning employment.”

In Smith v. City of Jackson, 544 U.S. 228 (2005), the Supreme Court held that disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The ADEA provides a right to jury trial in such claims. See 29 U.S.C. § 626(c)(2) ("[A] person shall be entitled to a trial by jury of any issue of fact in any [ADEA] action... regardless of whether equitable relief is sought by any party in such action.”) If an ADEA disparate impact claim is tried together with an ADA disparate impact claim, the parties or the court may decide to refer the ADA claim to the jury. In that case, the instruction provided for ADEA disparate impact claims (see Instruction 8.1.5) can be modified to apply to the ADA claim. Care must be taken, however, to instruct separately on the ADA disparate impact claim, as the substantive standards of recovery under the ADA in disparate impact cases may be different from those applicable to the ADEA. See the Comment to Instruction 8.1.5 for a more complete discussion.

(Last Updated July 2019)

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