Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Urgent Action Alert: Sponsors Needed for the ADA Restoration Act

From: Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Support Needed Now to Restore ADA Rights

July 23, 2007--This Thursday, July 26, on the 17th anniversary of enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) will introduce the ADA Restoration Act of 2007.

Court decisions have seriously eroded the rights of people with disabilities under the ADA, creating a Catch-22 that allows employers to say a person is "too disabled" to do the job but "not disabled enough" to be protected by the law.

People with conditions like mental illness, epilepsy, diabetes, HIV, cancer and hearing loss who manage their disabilities with medication, prosthetics, hearing aids, etc. - or "mitigating measures" - are viewed as "too functional" to have a disability and are denied the ADA's protection from employment discrimination.

People who are turned down for a job or fired because an employer mistakenly believes they cannot perform the job - or because the employer does not want "people like that" in the workplace - are also denied the ADA's protection from employment discrimination.

This Is Wrong!

Congress should correct this to ensure that the courts will interpret the ADA fairly, and as Congress intended.

Many voices are needed now to help Congressmen Hoyer and Sensenbrenner gather as many original co-sponsors as possible to show strength and support for this effort.

Please Act Now!

  • Call your Representative immediately at 202-224-3121 and ask him or her to become an original co-sponsor of the ADA Restoration Act of 2007. (You can also get a direct phone number at www.congress.org.)
  • Ask your Representative (or the staff member you speak to) to contact Representative Hoyer's (ext. 5-3130) or Sensenbrenner's (ext. 5-5101) office today to sign on as an original co-sponsor.
  • Forward this Action Alert to your network to get as many people as possible people to call their House member immediately with the same message.

What if you miss Thursday's deadline? Not to worry! Co-sponsors will still be needed after July 27th, so do call your Representative's office.

Here are talking points on the ADA Restoration Act and, below, a sample telephone message for seeking original cosponsors:

"Hi. My name is_______ and I live in ________. I would like Representative______ to be an original cosponsor of the ADA Restoration Act of 2007. A Dear Colleague letter was just sent to you on Friday, July 20 from Representatives Hoyer and Sensenbrenner to let you know that they will be introducing the ADA Restoration Act this Thursday, July 26, the 17th anniversary of the original enactment of the ADA.

"People with disabilities are still too often treated unfairly in the workplace. When they go to court with a claim of discrimination, they are treated unfairly again, often by a court that says they do not even have disability and are not eligible for coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act - even when they have been fired or refused employment because of their disability! The ADA needs to cover the people the U.S. Congress originally intended it to cover when it was passed in 1990, people with mental illnesses, epilepsy, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, intellectual and developmental disabilities or cancer. But that is not what is happening now.

"Please solve this problem by becoming an original cosponsor of the ADA Restoration Act of 2007."

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If you find our Action Alerts and Reporters useful, please consider making a contribution in support of the Bazelon Center's advocacy for people with mental disabilities. You can donate safely online at www.bazelon.org/support.


I urge everyone to get involved. This is important.

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