Discrimination Laws Apply to Federal Disabled Workers and Independent Government Contractors 

woman doctor at a deskFrom Law.com, John Council reports a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals case in which the court said that an independent contractor working for a program that received federal assistance was able to bring a claim for discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  John writes:

Flynn brought her claim under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the first major federal statute designed to protect the rights of the disabled in the United States. Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act broadly prohibits employment discrimination against disabled people in federally-assisted programs and activities.

In 1990, Congress followed up the Rehabilitation Act with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination against the disabled in the private sector. And in 1992, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to match some ADA provisions defining who could sue for employment discrimination.

Since those two laws were melded, federal trial and appellate courts have split over the issue of whether independent contractors can sue for employment discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

A Western District of Texas judge ultimately ruled that Flynn could not sue for employment discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act because she was an independent contractor rather than an employee of the defendant.

Flynn appealed that decision to the Fifth Circuit. And the AARP and Disability Rights Texas—two groups who advocate on behalf of the disabled—filed joint amicus briefs on Flynn’s behalf advocating her claim should be covered under the Rehabilitation Act.

And the Fifth Circuit agreed with their arguments that the Rehabilitation Act is not limited to a plaintiff’s employment context.

Judge Eugene Davis noted in the opinion that the Fifth Circuit was joining other courts in finding that Rehabilitation Act claims are not limited by the plaintiff’s employment status, noting that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act broadly prohibits discrimination “under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Davis remanded the case back to the district court for further rulings.

Read the full story at Discrimination Laws Apply to Federal Disabled Workers and Independent Government Contractors 

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