Teacher With Seasonal Affective Disorder Has Claim Under The ADA Against School For Failing To Transfer Her To A Windowed Room

Many people wonder what constitutes a disability for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). The ADA and ADAAA make disability discrimination illegal and in many cases it may be possible to file a lawsuit and obtain damages if you have been discriminated against due to a disability. However, it’s important to remember that not all injuries, illnesses or even medically defined disabilities are covered by the ADA. The ADA projects a specific class of individuals-qualified individuals with a disability. A qualified individual with a disability is an individual with any medical, physiological, or psychiatric condition that substantially limits a major life activity. Temporary conditions or conditions that, although serious, don’t substantially limit any of your major life activities are not covered.

On the other hand – in some instances you may be protected even though you don’t have an actual physical disability – the definition of disability is a legal one, not a medical one. Further, you may be protected by the ADA if you have been discriminated against based on a stereotype or unfounded concern about an individual’s medial condition and medical history.

Determining just who may be considered to have a disability can be confusing – if you have questions or think that you may have been discriminated against based on a disability it’s important to consult with an experienced Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer.

A recent case evaluated whether a teacher was entitled to a jury verdict based on her assertion that she suffered from seasonal affective disorder and should be transferred to a windowed classroom that let in natural light. In October 2010, a jury found in favor of the teacher, based in part on her doctor’s testimony. Her doctor stated that had the teacher been given a classroom with natural light (a “reasonable accommodation”) she would have been able to return to work.

Based on this testimony, along with proof that the school district was aware of the teacher’s disability, and that her placement in a classroom with no exterior light most likely accounted for her depression, the school was obliged to provide her requested accommodation unless it would “impose an undue hardship” on the school district.
Here, the court found a jury reasonably could find “little hardship” to the employer in doing so.

As a result, the appeals court determined that the jury verdict in the teacher’s favor should stand.

If you believe you have been discriminated at work based on a disability or any other reason, it is important to get help. For more information, contact the top Atlanta disability discrimination attorneys right away for an immediate case evaluation.