Cited Article

Accommodating Vulnerabilities to Environmental Tobacco Smoke: A Prism for Understanding the ADA

Case Citation

Battle v. Mineta, 387 F. Supp. 2d 4 (D.C.D.C. 2006)

Background

The fact-specific holding “Former federal employee's claim under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 793, failed as a matter of law because the employee's claim that his anxiety disorder prevented him from working with a certain supervisors did not substantially limit the "major life activity" of work or otherwise qualify him as handicapped.”

Citing Quote

There is Circuit precedent for determining what is a "substantial" limit on a major life activity. In Haynes v. Williams, 364 U.S. App. D.C. 108, 392 F.3d 478 (D.C. Cir. 2004) , the Court of Appeals held, citing Toyota Motor Mfg., Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184, 198, 151 L. Ed. 2d 615, 122 S. Ct. 681 (2002) , that a skin irritation that was triggered by appellant's work environment at a single workplace was not permanent or long-term and therefore could not substantially limit a major life activity under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The logic of the statutory requirement that the limitation of a major life activity be "substantial" has been criticized. n5 n5 In Accommodating Vulnerabilities to Environmental Tobacco Smoke: A Prism for Understanding the ADA, 12 JOURNAL OF LAW AND HEALTH 1 (1998), the authors discuss this very problem, namely, that "individuals with asthma or other impairments who have only claimed that their impairment limits their ability to work in one particular workplace (and do not allege that they experience a substantial limitation of another major life activity, such as walking or breathing) are unlikely to be found to have a disability." Id. at 14. According to the authors, it is this kind of logic that allows employers to deny reasonable accommodations, for example, to employees who experience respiratory reactions to second-hand smoke.

Article Publication Date

1997

Volume

12

Issue

1