A lot has be written over the past couple of years
predicting how the 2009 amendments to the ADA have eviscerated the definition
of disability. Here's what I wrote a couple of months ago, after reviewing
the EEOC's then-new regulations:
While the regulations make clear that "not every
impairment will constitute a disability," because of the ADAAA's expansive
definition of disability, most will.... In other words, employers should give up
hope that they will be able to prove that an employee's medical condition does
not qualify as a disability.
Now, we finally have an example that starts to prove
these predictions correct.
v. J.B. Hunt Transport (W.D. Ky. 5/26/11) concerns whether an employer
failed in its obligation to reasonably accommodate an employee's bi-polar and
anxiety disorders by making arrangements for a pre-employment drug screening
somewhere other than a small room. Before the court could reach the reasonable
accommodation issue, it had to first address whether the employee qualified as
"disabled" under the ADA. The following is the court's searing analysis of this
important threshold issue:
In difficult cases, a plaintiff usually proves disability
through a combination of medical evidence and personal testimony detailing the
practical impact of that medical condition. Here, Plaintiff is lacking in each
area.... The Court doubts that the medical and personal evidence here is
sufficient to show an actual inability to perform a basic function of life.
Nevertheless, given the broad definition of disability Congress intended, the
Court will assume that Plaintiff has a disability under the ADAAA.
Because employers will not be able to prove that an
employee is not "disabled," employers will be better served by focusing their
ADA-compliance efforts on the two issues that now matter: avoiding
discrimination and providing reasonable accommodations.
Visit the Ohio Employer's Law Blog for more
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