The ADA is designed to help disabled Americans work to their full potential. But the law wasn’t meant to apply to everyone with minor aches, pains and ailments.
That’s why most employees with light lifting restrictions aren’t covered by the law and can’t sue if their employers refuse to change a job description to exclude some lifting.
Recent case: Laura Stockton had an adverse reaction to a childhood vaccination, which left her with an unsteady gait and the inability to lift more than a few pounds. She took a job at an early-childhood education center.
All went well until she was assigned to the toddler room, where she had to lift children onto a changing table. She asked for help but struggled to do the job.
Stockton found a Web site that purported to explain her rights as a disabled American. She then wrote a letter to her supervisor explaining that she wanted an accommodation to help her lift the children.
Instead, the center reassigned her to work in a different room. Stockton quit and sued, alleging she had no choice but to quit.
But the court dismissed her case. It found that just because Stockton had a lifting restriction, that did not mean she was disabled as that term is defined in the ADA. Because she didn’t differ from millions of other Americans with minor lifting problems, she couldn’t claim special protection. (Stockton v. World of Hope Childcare Learning Center, No. CV-106-068, SD GA, 2007)