Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit cites reading as 'major life activity'

by on January 7, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

An ADA lawsuit can be based on the ability to read

The 9th Circuit Court made the ruling in the case of an ADA lawsuit where a worker sued for disability discrimination based on depression and bipolar disorder. He said his disabilities hurt his ability to perform the “major life activities” of sleeping, thinking and interacting with others.

The worker also cited his inability to read normally. He said he could not read for more than three to five minutes, and if he did, “things just got jumbled in my mind and I would have to stop.”

The court noted that a person would not die because he or she couldn’t read. But still, reading was a major life activity under ADA guidelines, the court said. To demonstrate a disability, employees have to show that they have a substantial disability in one or more of such activities.

“The ability to read is necessary in many instances to perform major life activities such as caring for oneself, learning and working,” the court reasoned. “As such, it is of central importance to most people’s daily lives.”

Another ADA lawsuit filed in the 2nd Federal Circuit Court found reading to be a major life activity under ADA guidelines.

ADA Law Takeaway
Be alert to the possibility of accommodating disabled employees for ADA compliance, even if the disability seems like a stretch to you. This case shows the courts are sometimes willing to make that stretch.

Cite: Head v. Glacier Northwest, No. 03-35567, 9th Cir., 7/6/05.

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