Executive Summary: The Southern District Court of California, in Ruiz v. ParadigmWorks Group, Inc., held that an employer was not at fault for failing to grant an employee’s request for multiple medical leaves of absence where the employee was totally disabled and she could not provide a “finite end date to [her] total disability.”
Articles Discussing The Definition of Disability Under the ADA
A federal court in New York dismissed all claims asserted by a recovering alcoholic under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act for numerous reasons including that he did not show he was “disabled.” Johnson v. N.Y. State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Servs., No. 16-cv-9769 (S.D.N.Y. March 13, 2018).
On July 12, 2017, the EEOC filed suit in the Middle District of North Carolina alleging that an employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing a request to telecommute from an employee with a sensitivity to workplace smells.
In 2009, Congress passed the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA), unquestionably expanding the definition of a disability under the ADA and, for all practical purposes in most cases, shifting the focus of disability lawsuits in federal court.
Today, after a two year wait, the Department of Justice will publish its final rule amending the ADA regulations to incorporate the 2008 statutory changes set forth in the ADAAA, which took effect on January 1, 2009.
In Weaving v. City of Hillsboro,1 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit waxed nostalgic by reversing a jury and lower court finding that a police officer with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) had a “disability” within the meaning of the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Ninth Circuit held that the former officer was not disabled, because his ADHD – and associated abrasive behavior toward colleagues – did not substantially limit him in the major life activities of working or interacting with others. Before the amendments to the ADA, this decision might not have been noteworthy. Given the far more expansive interpretation of “disability” under the 2008 ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), however, the Weaving case assumes the aura of a “Man Bites Dog” story by resisting the tendency of courts to err on the side of finding threshold protection under the ADAAA.
Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) over five years ago on Sept.17, 2008. The act’s stated purpose was to reinstate “a broad scope of protection to be available under the ADA” as the result of several decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court that had created an “inappropriately high level of limitation necessary to obtain coverage under the ADA.”
In late January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held in Summers v. Altarum Institute Corp., No. 13-1645 (4th Cir. Jan. 23, 2014), that “a sufficiently severe temporary impairment may constitute a disability.” This opinion is the first published federal appellate court opinion to apply the expanded definition of disability contained in the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).