US Supreme Court to Decide on 'Employee' Question

October 4, 2002 ( - US Supreme Court justices have agreed to decide exactly who is an "employee" for the purposes of determining whether small firms are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The case involves an ADA discrimination claim filed against Clackamas Gastroenterology Associates, a small Oregon medical clinic with four physician shareholders and 12 to 15 other workers. The issue, according to a Business Insurance news report, is that the clinic is organized as a corporation rather than as a partnership.

If the high court decides that the doctors are employees for the sake of the ADA, then the firm would have to comply with the law’s requirements including meeting accessibility standards. Former employee Deborah Wells filed the ADA discrimination suit.  

A federal judge sided with the company, ruling that the doctor shareholders were not employees. The US 9 th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a split 2-1 ruling in favor of Wells and the clinic appealed to the Washington, DC high court.


The case is Clackamas Gastroenterology Associates vs. Wells. No date has been set for oral arguments.