In one of the first summary judgment rulings under the amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADAAA”), the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana determined that an employee who has cancer is considered to be “disabled” even if the condition is in remission at the time of the alleged adverse employment action.
In Hoffman v. Carefirst of Fort Wayne Inc., d/b/a/ Advanced Healthcare, 13 months after Stephen J. “Sam” Hoffman, had surgery for stage III renal cancer, his employer demanded he increase his hours from 40 to 65 or 70 in order to meet client needs. Hoffman objected and produced a doctor’s note stating he was limited to working a 40-hour workweek. The company rejected his request to work fewer hours in his current location, and offered Hoffman a different job with a 2-3 hour commute. The arrangement was unacceptable and Hoffman never returned to work.
Hoffman sued under the ADAAA, claiming Advanced Healthcare failed to accommodate his disability and he was fired because he was disabled or regarded as disabled.
Although the ADAAA retains several key aspects of the ADA, it has also made some significant changes to the term “disability” and has expanded the ADA protections to include more individuals with less severe impairments. The ADAAA also provides, “the definition of disability in this Act shall be construed in favor of broad coverage …to the maximum extent permitted under the terms of the Act.”
Writing for the court, Judge Rudy Lozano reasoned that based on the stated
purpose and language of the ADAAA, as well as interpretative regulations
issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, cancer is a covered
disability – regardless of whether it’s active or in remission.
Further, a showing that cancer was substantially limiting Hoffman in a
major life activity was unnecessary.
The ADA Amendments Act has broadened the scope of the ADA and now makes it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability. If you believe you have been discriminated at work based on a disability or perceived disability, you may be entitled to bring a claim under the ADAAA. For more information, contact Buckley Beal LLP, LLC, a Georgia law firm dedicated to protecting employee’s rights.