There are actually five titles to the Americans with Disabilities Act. This article will give an overview of Title I, which applies to employment. The vehicle for this article will be the situation of Jerry Kill, the varsity football coach at the University of Minnesota, who suffers from epilepsy. Kill has been a head coach in college football since 1994, and over the years he periodically suffered seizures during games and at other times. Nevertheless, the University of Minnesota took no adverse action against him and allowed him to continue coaching. Eventually, he decided it was in his best interest to step away, at least temporarily. In the fall of 2013, he announced a leave of absence, but he returned for the final game of the season against Syracuse.
If this were a situation in which either party was trying to assess their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), how would it play out? That is the question this article explores. Keep in mind, this is a general discussion, and I am in no way saying that any of the “facts” discussed below are in reality the actual facts. The discussion that follows is for educational and illustrative purposes. Also, keep in mind that this article is not meant to be an exhaustive discussion of how the ADA applies to employment. (For a fuller examination of employment issues and the ADA, see the first five chapters of my book, Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act, 4th ed., ABA, 2013.)