The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has sent a signal that it may now hold employers to a higher standard when it comes to employees whose disabilities are under control, but need time off to keep them that way.
Recent case: Joseph Lynch injured his left foot and required monthly injections to control pain. As long as he got the shots, his condition didn’t limit him in any way. However, he did need time off every month to receive the injections.
When Lynch lost his job, he sued for disability discrimination.
His former employer argued that Lynch wasn’t disabled and therefore not covered by the ADA.
The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, but only because Lynch was terminated before the effective date of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008. Had the termination occurred today, the court probably would have held the employer liable. (Lynch v. Matthews International, No 10-3221, 3rd Cir., 2011)
Final note: If you haven’t told them already, make sure managers and supervisors understand that employees whose disabilities are under control but who would clearly be disabled if they didn’t receive treatment are still covered by the ADA. That means that time off for treatment may be a reasonable accommodation.
Note that run-of-the-mill poor vision corrected with glasses or contact lenses is not covered under the amendments. Otherwise, just about everyone who needs glasses would be considered disabled.