On a discretionary appeal under 28 USC § 1292(b), the Sixth Circuit recently held that section 12112(b)(6) of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employers’ use of qualification standards and other tests that tend to screen out disabled individuals, only extends protection to disabled individuals. Bates v. Dura Automotive Systems, Inc., No. 09-6351 (6th Cir. Nov. 3, 2010).

In a unanimous and succinct opinion, the Court relied heavily on the plain language of 48 U.S.C. § 12112(a) and (b), citing the references to “qualified individual[s] with a disability...,” unlike other parts of the statute, which refer simply to "employee[s]." As further support for its holding, the Court noted that its narrow interpretation of section 12112(b)(6)'s scope is consistent with Congress’s goal in enacting the ADA: to prevent discrimination against the disabled.

The Court rejected the claimants’ argument that the subsection should be read in conjunction with subsection (d)(4), which extends protection against medical evaluations to "employee[s]" generally. Indeed, the Court cited Congress's use of the different terms as supporting its narrow interpretation of section 12112(b)(6). Read the Court's full decision at Bates v. Dura Automotive Systems, Inc., No. 09-6351 (6th Cir. Nov. 3, 2010).pdf.