Site-Specific Disability?

By Bill Wright

Does the ADAAA allow an employee to claim that she is disabled-in-a-particular-place or with-a-particular-supervisor, and otherwise not disabled? A California federal court judge opened the door to such claims by denying summary judgment on the issue of the plaintiff’s disability. In Lozano v. County of Santa Clara, No. 5:14-cv-02992-EJD (N.D. Cal. Jan. 13, 2017), the plaintiff argued that her current worksite aggravated an underlying impairment, preventing her from performing any of the essential functions of her job. If she worked at another site, she would still have the impairment, but it would not be debilitating. (Naturally, she sought transfer to another location as a reasonable accommodation for her site-specific disability, but set that aside.)  Was she even disabled if her impairment only prevented her from performing her job at one location? Here, the court answered, “Maybe. The ADAAA is supposed to be interpreted broadly. A site-specific disability is like an intermittent or latent condition.”

Beware of employees claiming that the anxiety of working for their boss, or in their workspace, triggers a disability. They might have a point.