Thursday, January 10, 2013

Iowa Appellate Court: ADAAA Covers Severe Allergies

See this story, which begins:
Iowa residents who suffer from occasional medical attacks such as those those from severe allergies and epilepsy are protected from discrimination by the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. 
The case involved Shannon Knudsen, 30, a mother who in May 2011 sued Tiger Tots Community Child Care Center in Madrid, Iowa, after the facility declined to accept her child because of the child's tree nut allergy. 
A district court had ruled that the Iowa Civil Rights Act does not protect the child. The appeals court, however, said the lower court erred in not considering a 2008 amendment to the Americans With Disabilities Act that may protect the child from discrimination.
The opinion in Knudsen v. Tiger Tots Community Child Care Center Corporation can be found here.  What's interesting about the case is that the Iowa legislature did not amend its Civil Rights Act after Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act to explicitly incorporate the new federal definition of disability.  But the court held nonetheless "that federal law" -- including the ADAAA -- "establishes the framework for an analysis of 'disability' under state law."  Judge Gayle Nelson Vogel, dissenting, argued that the court was usurping the legislative function by reading the state statute as incorporating the ADAAA.

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