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Employment Law Alert: Michigan Court Rules That Neither Compensatory Nor Punitive Damages Are Available On Retaliation Claims Brought Under The ADA

In a case of first impression in the Sixth Circuit, a Michigan District Court judge ruled on July 25 that neither compensatory nor punitive damages are available on claims alleging retaliation under the ADA. Section 12203(a) of the ADA prohibits retaliation against an individual “because such individual has opposed any act or practice made unlawful” by the ADA. However, the section that defines the remedies available for such violation -- 102117 -- refers to certain portions of the remedial provisions of Title VII -- none of which include compensatory or punitive damages. The provisions of the ADA that specifically allow for the recovery of these kinds of damages are the provisions dealing with disability discrimination and failure to accommodate claims. Based on these provisions, the Court concluded that such damages are not available for retaliation claims under the ADA. In so going, the Court agreed with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as district courts in various other states that have addressed the issue.

Bottom Line

This decision is obviously very helpful to employers facing retaliation claims under the ADA. However, it may well be of limited importance, given the fact that the vast majority of ADA lawsuits include discrimination and/or failure to accommodate claims as well as retaliation claims.

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