ADA criteria: Does it limit major life activity?
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, in order for an individual to be disabled, he/she must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA itself sets out some major life activities: breathing, walking, seeing, etc.
Courts are frequently asked to expand upon this definition.
For example, is interacting with others a major life activity? The leading case on this point indicates that a person may be considered substantially limited in the ability to interact with others only if the person has a severe limitation in the fundamental ability to communicate with others. Mere difficulty with getting along with co-workers would be insufficient to establish a substantial limitation.
Under this rather heightened standard, severe conditions such as agoraphobia, autism or severe depression probably would qualify.
Would Tourette Syndrome qualify?
In a recent case, an employee had Tourette's Syndrome. His ADA claim failed when he was unable to establish that his condition substantially limited the major life activity of interacting with others.
The evidence showed that he regularly communicated with co-workers and could handle personal tasks, like banking and grocery shopping, which put him in direct contact with others.
James Jorgensen practices law at Hoeppner Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso.
How is Tourette Syndrome assessed in your particular jurisdiction?