By Debra H. Dawahare
As everyone knows by now, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires covered employers to offer reasonable accommodations to employees with conditions that substantially limit major life activities. During the statute’s early history, the courts tended to interpret the definition of “disability” narrowly. Congress responded with the ADAAA, scolding the courts for their narrow interpretations and requiring employers to assume that almost anyone requesting an accommodation is disabled.
In a recent federal case, a school district in Wisconsin chose to contest an employee’s claim of disability, and ended up with an adverse trial verdict of almost $2M. In Ekstran v. School District of Somerset (WI) the complainant was a kindergarten teacher with Seasonal Affective Disorder (“SAD”), whose assignment to a windowless classroom exacerbated her condition. The symptoms of SAD include depression, fatigue, and panic attacks.