Supreme Court has moved to make it more difficult for workers
with repetitive-motion injuries to file for disability lawsuits.
On Tuesday, the court sided unanimously with business groups in
the case of a disabled worker.
to reports, the ruling reverses an earlier decision that business
groups said would have expanded the rights of workers to sue.
Tuesday's unanimous decision narrows the scope of the 1990 Americans
With Disabilities Act, the landmark civil rights law.
In an earlier
decision, the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
had concluded that Ella Williams was disabled because she was
unable to perform her paint inspection job at the Toyota Motor
Manufacturing plant in Lexington, KY. The case is Toyota v. Williams.
Day O'Connor, writing for the court, said that limitation isn't
enough to render a person disabled. She told the lower court to
review such factors as Williams' ability to do daily chores.
the justices said the federal appeals court was too quick to conclude
that the former Toyota engine assembly-line worker was disabled
and therefore eligible to sue under the Americans with Disabilities
central inquiry must be whether the claimant is unable to perform
the variety of tasks central to most people's daily lives, not
whether the claimant is unable to perform the tasks associated
with her specific job,'' O'Connor wrote.
centered on a type of injury that has become common among workers
who repeatedly perform the same task. Statistics show almost two
million U.S. employees suffer work-related musculoskeletal disorders,
according to the U.S. Labor Department. About a third have conditions
serious enough to require time off from work. Carpal tunnel syndrome
and tendonitis are two of these afflictions.
law requires employers to make accommodations so disabled workers
can hold jobs. According to that law, workers are disabled if
they have an impairment that "substantially limits one or
more major life activities.''
The high court
did not decide Williams wasn't disabled, but instead sent the case
back to the lower courts for additional proceedings and possibly