Ninth Circuit Extends Rehabilitation Act to Independent Contractors


On November 19, 2009, the Ninth Circuit handed down its opinion in Fleming v. Yuma Regional Medical Center, 07-16427. The court faced the difficult task of interpreting the interplay between Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794) and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Sixth and Eighth Circuits had previously held that the Rehabilitation Act incorporated Title I in its entirety, requiring an employer-employee relationship as a prerequisite to suing for discrimination. On the other hand, the Tenth Circuit had disagreed, and only incorporated the "standards" of Title I, allowing independent contractors to sue even without an employment relationship. In Fleming, the Ninth Circuit agreed with the Tenth Circuit, and held that the Rehabilitation Act would indeed cover claims by an independent contractor notwithstanding the lack of an employer-employee relationship.

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