Big Talk, Broken Promises: How Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act Failed Disabled Workers

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA” or “the Act”) was signed into law in July 1990 with much fanfare. President George H.W. Bush echoed Congress’s belief that it would level the playing field for the disabled in all facets of daily life. The President closed his signing ceremony speech by equating the signing of the Act to the crumbling of the Berlin Wall the year before: “[N]ow I sign legislation which takes a sledgehammer to another wall, one which has for too many generations, separated Americans with disabilities from the freedom they could glimpse, but not grasp.” In the fifteen years since, however, the monumental promise of the ADA, at least with respect to employment, has largely gone unfulfilled. There are a number of reasons for this, three of which will be discussed in this Note.

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