Washington Law Review


Although Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in part to protect disabled individuals from paternalism, the ADA permits employers to adopt a requirement that individuals not pose a direct threat to others in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that this direct threat defense also protects an employer who discharges or refuses to hire individuals who pose a direct threat to their own health or safety in the workplace. In Echazabal v. Chevron, the Ninth Circuit struck down the EEOC interpretation of direct threat on the ground that it was paternalistic and inconsistent with the purpose of the ADA. This Note argues that the EEOC interpretation was reasonable and consistent with the language and underlying purpose of the direct threat defense. This Note concludes that the Ninth Circuit's rule will force employers to choose between violating the ADA and knowingly hiring individuals who are at a substantial risk of injury or death in the workplace.

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