Created August 6, 2008
- General Rule
- A Mental Impairment will be considered a disability under the ADA if, in light of the Mitigating Factors employed, one or more Major Life Activities are Substantially Limited.
- Murphy v. Ups, 527 U.S. 516 (U.S. 1999)
- Mental Impairment
- Means any mental or psychological disorder, such as:
- Mental retardation,
- Organic brain syndrome,
- Emotional or mental illness, and
- Specific learning disabilities.
ú Describes such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
45 CFR 84.3(j)(2)(i)(B)
- Major Life Activities
- Means functions such as:
- Caring for one’s self,
- Performing manual tasks,
- Learning, and
45 CFR 84.3(j)(2)(ii)
- Mitigating Factors
- A person whose physical or mental impairment is corrected by medication or other measures does not have an impairment that presently “substantially limits” a major life activity. To be sure, a person whose physical or mental impairment is corrected by mitigating measures still has an impairment, but if the impairment is corrected it does not “substantially limit” a major life activity.
- Sutton v. United Air Lines, 527 U.S. 471, 482-483 (U.S. 1999)
- Substantially Limited
- Means (According to EEOC):
- “unable to perform a major life activity that the average person in the general population can perform”; or “significantly restricted as to the condition, manner or duration under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity as compared to the condition, manner, or duration under which the average person in the general population can perform that same major life activity.”
29 CFR § 1630.2(j) (2001).
- Factors to be considered should be considered:
- The nature and severity of the impairment;
- The duration or expected duration of the impairment; and
- The permanent or long-term impact, or the expected permanent or long-term impact of or resulting from the impairment.”
ú Toyota Motor Mfg., Ky. v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184, 196 (U.S. 2002)
Emotional or Mental Illness
- Substantially Limits Major Life Activities
- Sutton v. United Air Lines, 527 U.S. 471, 492 (U.S. 1999)
ú To be substantially limited in the major life activity of working, then, one must be precluded from more than one type of job, a specialized job, or a particular job of choice. If jobs utilizing an individual’s skills (but perhaps not his or her unique talents) are available, one is not precluded from a substantial class of jobs. Similarly, if a host of different types of jobs are available, one is not precluded from a broad range of jobs.
- 4th Circuit
- Substantially Limits Major Life Activities
- Rohan v. Networks Presentations LLC, 375 F.3d 266, 274 (4th Cir. Md. 2004)
ú Plaintiff was not able to prove that stress or depression substantially limited a major life activity (interacting with others)
ú Bottom Line: Interacting with other is NOT a major life activity
- Reasonable Accommodations
- Lamb v. Qualex, Inc., 33 Fed. Appx. 49, 59 (4th Cir. Va. 2002)
ú The ADA does not, however, require an employer to create a new position as an accommodation to a disabled employee.
ú Where an employer has no part-time jobs available, a request for part-time employment is not a reasonable one.
- Substantially Limits Major Life Activity
- James v. Strayer Univ., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86993 (E.D. Va. Nov. 27, 2007)
ú Plaintiff claimed anxiety and PTSD, but was not able to properly prove the existence of a disability, because there was a lack of proof that her impairment substantially limited a major-life activity
ú Court reasoned that mere receipt of medical treatment, not accompanied by a showing that the condition for which the patient was treated substantially limits a major life activity, is not sufficient to create a record of impairment under the ADA.
ú Bottom Line: need evidence of a mental impairment AND that it substantially limits a major life activity
- Betts v. Rector & Visitors of the Univ. of Va., 113 F. Supp. 2d 970 (W.D. Va. 2000)
ú Plaintiff had problems with short term memory, which was deemed a learning disability, ultimately causing his expulsion from medical school
ú Court reasoned that the learning disability did not constitute a disability under the ADA, because it did not substantially limit a major-life activity (going to med school does not constitute a major-life activity) and the plaintiff had greater scholastic success than the average person, meaning his learning disability did not restrict his ability to learn less than the average person
ú Bottom Line: being limited from higher education is not a mental impairment and limitations to major life activities must be compared to the average person
- Thomas v. Potter, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74338 (D. Va. 2006)
ú Plaintiff alleged discrimination on a number of grounds including his disability – Anxiety
ú Court reasoned that Plaintiff was not disabled under the ADA, because his complaint simply alleged that USPS assigned him more work than he could complete in an 8 hour day, rather
ú Bottom Line: simply not being able to do the work assigned does not prove disability, must show that the alleged mental impairment doesn’t allow you to work like the average person
- Wiggins v. DaVita Tidewater, LLC, 451 F. Supp. 2d 789, 798 (D. Va. 2006)
ú Plaintiff claimed a disability under the ADA, alleging she had anxiety and stress
ú Court reasoned that plaintiff was not disabled under the ADA, because the major life activity of working is not ‘substantially limited’ if a plaintiff cannot work under a certain supervisor because of anxiety and stress. Her complaint simply alleged that she could not work as a PCT at DaVita under her supervisor, which is not sufficient under the ADA.
ú Bottom Line: person is not disabled under the ADA simply if they allege anxiety and stress as a result of a supervisor
- Bradley v. Arlington County, 189 Fed. Appx. 164 (4th Cir. 2006)
ú Plaintiff suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression
ú Court reasoned plaintiff was not disabled under the ADA, because he could not show that the major-life activity of working was substantially limited, not having provided sufficient evidence that he was unable to perform a broad range or class of jobs
ú Bottom Line: substantially limited, as related to working, means that an individual cannot perform a broad range of jobs, not simply the one with which they are currently employed
- Mitigating Impairments
- Stumbo v. Dyncorp Tech. Servs., 130 F. Supp. 2d 771 (W.D. Va. 2001)
ú Plaintiff had hypertension as a result to high-blood pressure
ú Court reasoned that the hypertension was not a disability because the high-blood pressure could be mitigated with medication
ú Bottom Line: must mitigate impairment
- Major Life Activities
- Parkinson v. Anne Arundel Med. Ctr., Inc., 214 F. Supp. 2d 511, 514 (D. Md. 2002)
ú Plaintiff was not deemed to be substantially limited from pursuing a major life activity simply because he could not work overtime.
ú Bottom Line: working as a whole is considered a major life activity, and it in its totality must be substantially limited. A mere limitation of a small facet of working (i.e. overtime) does not constitute a substantial limitation
- Reagan v. England, 218 F. Supp. 2d 742, 747 (D. Md. 2002)
ú Further, “a personality conflict between an employee and a supervisor–even one that triggers the employee’s depression–is not enough to establish that the employee is disabled, so long as the employee could still perform the job under a different supervisor.”
ú Bottom Line: for depression to qualify as a disability, it cannot be simply the result of one’s job
- Sanders v. FMAS Corp., 180 F. Supp. 2d 698, 704 (D. Md. 2001)
ú Plaintiff was not able to prove that her condition prevented her from an opportunity in obtaining employment in a wide range of jobs
ú Bottom Line: to be a disability under the ADA, if a condition is argued to impair the major life activity of working, it must impair the ability to obtain employment in a broad class of jobs to be substantially limiting
- Mitigating Impairment
- Rose v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 186 F. Supp. 2d 595, 614 (D. Md. 2002)
ú Plaintiff’s failure to take the proper measures to gain a proper diagnosis necessary to a proper treatment plan is the legal equivalent of a refusal to avail oneself of proper treatment. Therefore, Plaintiff has not, on the record, presented proof that he has a disability as defined in the ADA.
ú Bottom Line: if Plaintiff does not attempt to mitigate their disabilities, then they will not be able to pursues an EEOC claim
- Tangires v. Johns Hopkins Hosp., 79 F. Supp. 2d 587 (D. Md. 2000)
ú Plaintiff had not availed herself of proper medical treatment, the court concluded that she was not a “qualified individual with a disability” who was protected by the provisions of the ADA.
- Zeigler v. Potter, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40884 (D.D.C. May 23, 2008)
- In order to be disabled under the ADA an employee must be actually impaired at the time of employment, not potentially or hypothetically employed
- Lytes v. D.C. Water & Sewer Auth., 527 F. Supp. 2d 52, 60 (D.D.C. 2007)
- Plaintiff’s inability to lift heavy objects over the course of the day, while it precluded his ability to perform his current job, did not substantially limit his ability to work in general
- In order for an impairment to substantially limit the major life activity of working, a person must not be able to perform a broad class of jobs
- Battle v. Mineta, 387 F. Supp. 2d 4, 8 (D.D.C. 2005)
- Ability to interact with others is not a major life activity
- When the major life activity under consideration is that of working, the statutory phrase “substantially limits” requires, at a minimum, that plaintiffs allege they are unable to work in a broad class of jobs. To be substantially limited in the major life activity of working, then, one must be precluded from more than one type of job, a specialized job, or a particular job of choice.
- Koch v. McPhie, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14320 (D.D.C. Mar. 31, 2004)
- Plaintiff was not deemed disabled under the ADA, because his impairment to walking was not chronic, but rather temporary and sporadic
- Lester v. Natsios, 290 F. Supp. 2d 11, 24 (D.D.C. 2003)
- An individual suffering from hypertension whose high blood pressure is adequately controlled [**26] by medication is not disabled under the ADA
- The relatively short duration of the impairment and the absence of any permanent or long-term impact from the impairment are factors that argue strongly against the conclusion that plaintiff’s brief uncontrolled period of hypertension substantially limited a major life activity
- Boone v. Reno, 121 F. Supp. 2d 109, 112 (D.D.C. 2000)
- Because the only effect on her life from her asthma is that she cannot become an FBI Special Agent, and because that is only one job, the Court holds that she does not have a disability.