- An employee with anemia failed to show that she had a disability protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (Martin v. Teleperformance Inc., No. 18-cv-62488 (11th Cir., Feb. 23, 2021)).
- The plaintiff, a call center customer service rep, was fired after four months. She sued, claiming that the company unlawfully discriminated against her because of the disability. The district court granted summary judgment to her employer. The 11th Circuit affirmed the decision, finding that the plaintiff had not shown that she qualified as an individual with a disability under the ADA.
- The appeals court found that the plaintiff had not shown that she qualified within the meaning of the ADA. First, the court said, she had not established that her impairment substantially limited any major life activity. The worker simply pointed to blood work indicating that she had anemia and said that she would become impaired when the weather turned cold, according to court documents. What's more, the court noted, the worker confirmed in her testimony that her impairment did not impact her work in any way. The worker never disclosed her disability to her employer, nor did she request an accommodation from its human resources department, the court said; she did inform her supervisor of her anemia, but not until after she had been fired.
The ADA prohibits bias in the workplace against qualified individuals with a disability. A "disability" is defined as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
The law says a "major life activity" can include, but is not limited to: "caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working." The phrase also includes major bodily functions such as "functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions."
Before the ADA was amended in 2008, courts and employers spent a lot of time working to discern whether an employee's impairment met the law's definition of "disability." The amendments, however, directed stakeholders to place less weight on that question and focus instead on accommodation and nondiscrimination.