Juries usually decide whether a defendant's conduct in a tort suit conforms to the standard required by law.' The jury provides a source of community values when it decides the reasonableness of a party's conduct. The jury performs an important role in this regard on issues invoking community values, where judges and juries most frequently come to different conclusions.
The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA) creates a right to sue for disability-based discrimination and to recover damages similar to those in a tort suit. Among other issues, a jury may decide if an employer made reasonable accommodations for a disabled employee. When reasonable accommodations are not made, the presumption is that an employer has discriminated against the adversely affected employee. By determining whether an employer has made a reasonable accommodation, juries ensure that society's conception of reasonableness shapes employers' compliance with the ADA. Furthermore, the right to have a jury determine the liabilities of parties in all legal claims has been cemented in the Seventh Amendment. This Note argues that the right to a jury trial plays an important role in ADA litigation, and that it should be provided even where back pay is the only remedy sought. This rule not only makes sound policy, but the Seventh Amendment requires it.
When the ADA was enacted in 1990, the remedies available were the same as those listed in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.9 Congress intended that the remedies for discrimination on the basis of race and sex prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would be the same as those for discrimination on the basis of disability, even if Title VII was amended. These remedies included enjoining an employer from engaging in unlawful conduct, ordering the reinstatement or hiring of employees, awarding back pay," "or any other equi-reasonable accomodation is a case-by-case determination.
Robert L. Strayer, II,
Asserting the Seventh Amendment: An Argument for the Right to a Jury Trial when Only Back Pay is Sought Under the Americans with Disabilities Act,
52 Vanderbilt Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/vlr/vol52/iss3/6