HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Pandemic 'Disability Cons'

Doron Dorfman (Seton Hall University), Pandemic 'Disability Cons', 49 J. L., Med. & Ethics 401 (2021):

Disability rights law has made issues of access and accommodations much more visible in American life. Yet a byproduct of the increased awareness of disability rights has been “fear of the disability con,” that is, the common apprehension that people are abusing the law to gain an unfair advantage. Many times, this moral panic creates an invisible, oft-overlooked barrier for people with disabilities who desire to utilize their rights. They either are refused the right altogether or give up asking for it in the first place because they are afraid of being accused of being fakers. This Article shows how fear of the disability con surfaced along the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic. It describes the schism between the ways in which people with disabilities generally fared under the pandemic and some popular perceptions regarding the “privileges” they allegedly received because of their protected legal status. Those so-called privileges include mask exemptions, vaccination priority, and permission to continue remote work. The Article concludes with lessons the COVID-19 pandemic experience can teach us about the nature and scope of the fear of the disability con.

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