Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Interesting Student Note on the Paralympics and the Disability Discrimination Laws

Just out on Westlaw: Jason Kroll, Note, Second Class Athletes: The USOC's Treatment of its Paralympians, 23 Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J. 307 (2005). The introduction:

The past few years have not been kind to the United States Olympic Committee ("USOC"). The organization's credibility and reputation has been severely tarnished due to scandals and allegations involving bribery, corruption and drug use, among many other things. This has prompted Congress to investigate the organization and pass legislation requiring the USOC to reorganize its governing structure. But the USOC's problems do not end there. Recently, disabled athletes have filed two separate lawsuits in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado alleging that the USOC discriminates against the disabled by refusing to provide the same benefits and programs to Paralympians that it does for Olympians. Specifically, these Paralympians claim that USOC policy and practices violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act--legislation passed to protect the disabled against discrimination.

The purpose of this note is to evaluate whether the USOC is indeed engaging in discriminatory behavior against the disabled. The focal point of the note will be the more recent of the two lawsuits, the Hollonbeck litigation. The note begins with an overview of both the USOC and the Paralympics, and the relationship between the two entities. Part II discusses the claims brought by the athletes in the Hollonbeck litigation and the USOC's response to these claims. Part III provides an in-depth discussion of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act with specific emphasis on their application to the sports world. Part IV presents the legal arguments of both the athlete- plaintiffs and the USOC. Part V provides an analysis of these arguments, and based on statutory interpretation and congressional intent, concludes that the USOC's treatment of Paralympic Athletes violates both the ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.


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