Court rules sex is a ‘major life activity’

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

Alexander Bondarenko was a letter carrier who resigned after being passed over for numerous promotions. He sued the U.S. Postal Service for constructive discharge and disability discrimination, claiming it hadn’t tried to find a reasonable accommodation so he could work within the restrictions of a back injury. The Postal Service argued Bondarenko wasn’t disabled because his condition did not substantially limit a “major life activity,” as the ADA requires.

Bondarenko disagreed. He said the back injury left him unable to have recreational sex.

A U.S. District Court in Colorado agreed that having sex was indeed a major life activity under Title I of the ADA—one that “the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty”—and that his injury substantially limited his enjoyment of it.

This ruling didn’t do Bondarenko any good. The court ruled he hadn’t been able to link his disability to any adverse employment action, so it dismissed his case. (Bondarenko v. Potter, No. 07-CV-01286, DC CO, 2008)

Advice: Don’t stop the ADA reasonable accommodations process just because you’re not sure whether an employee really is disabled. The effects of some disabilities aren’t obvious. If you’re not sure, it’s best to consult an attorney.

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