Maura Thompson
Matthew Hotard
Court Case #8
480 U.S. 273 (1987)
Argued: December 3, 1986
Decided: March 3, 1987
Gene Arline, an elementary school teacher in Nassau County was discharged in 1979 because of her case of tuberculosis. Arline took the case to a federal court stating that the Board of Education had violated §504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits a federally funded state program from discriminating against a handicapped person solely because of their handicap. The Court found that “contagious disease” is covered in the description of a handicap individual under the Act. The Court also proposed that because of her illness, was Arline “otherwise qualified” to be a teacher?
The court ruled that because Arlines disease covered her as a handicap person under The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, she was eligible for handicap assistance and was covered under the act that the school could not discharge her solely on behalf of her illness. The Court also found that Arline was, in fact, qualified for her position because she met all the requirement of the job position, in spite of her handicap. Since Arline met all of said requirement, the School Board was obligated to make reasonable accommodations for the handicap employee.
Disabilities come in all shapes and types, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (Act), is an all inclusive document regarding what is considered handicapped and how the affected people can be treated. Efforts to side step the meaning or application of this document are usually met with fierce opposition and a court order to do what they tried not to do. Because of this case the definition of disability has been expanded allowing a greater number of people to utilize the assistance it offers.
Quiz Question:
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (Act), was not implemented to help?
  1. Students who are blind.
  2. Students with speech problems.
  3. Teachers with physical handicaps.
  4. Students making average grades in mainstream classrooms.