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In Brief

The Supreme Court issued a broad decision limiting the applicability of the ADA to only those disabilities that substantially limit activities important to daily life. This decision was overturned by later legislative amendments to the ADA.

What Happened in Court

In an opinion by Justice O’Connor, the Supreme Court held that to be covered by the ADA, an employee must have an impairment that severely limits the individual from activities of central importance to daily life. A medical diagnosis is not enough to prove the disability. Thus, carpal tunnel does not limit a major life activity, since it only limits activities related to the employee’s specific job. This decision was later overturned by legislative amendments to the ADA.

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