The federal courts were already divided over the rights of independent contractors to sue for discrimination. The split widened this month when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that a doctor whose contract was terminated after a hospital learned of his sickle cell anemia can sue under the Rehabilitation Act.

The 9th Circuit on Nov. 19 reversed a lower court ruling, which concluded that the Rehabilitation Act covers only employer-employee relationships and not claims by an independent contractor. “[T]here is no need to ‘extend’ the Rehabilitation Act; its language is broad enough to cover employees and independent contractors alike,” the appeals court said.

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