US High Court Takes ADA Case

November 18, 2002 ( - US Supreme Court justices have agreed to decide whether state government agencies such as the California Medical Board can be sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The case involves plaintiff Michael Hason who claims he was turned down for a medical license because he suffers from depression, the Associated Press reported. Hason claimed the medical board could have granted him a probationary license requiring him to get help.

An appeals court ruled for Hason, but the Supreme Court may use the case to continue its recent trend of narrowing the scope of the 1990 law forbidding discrimination against the disabled, the AP said.

For example, in early 2001, the court ruled that state workers cannot use the law to win damages for on-the-job discrimination. Justices said the law doesn’t trump states’ constitutional immunity against being sued for damages in federal courts, according to the AP.

Lawyers for the California board said that the 2001 decision should protect it from. Hason’s lawsuit. They also argued that a license wasn’t a “service, program or activity” that the ADA requires governments to offer the disabled.

Hason claims that he was treated differently not only because of his illness, but also because he was from New York and new to California. A psychiatrist told the board that Dr. Hason should be allowed to practice medicine and that he wasn’t a danger to patients.

The case is Medical Board of California v. Hason.