Temporary Conditions Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

     The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) makes it unlawful for a covered employer to discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability. When asserting rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an employee first must establish that he or she meets the statutory definition of “disabled.” 

      Following the amendment of the ADA in 2008 (ADA Amendments Act or ADAAA), the EEOC has advanced a more liberal interpretation of the term.  At issue in Summers v. Altarum Institute (4th Circuit 2014) was a challenge to pre-ADAAA case law generally holding that a temporary impairment is not a disability.    In Summers, The Fourth Circuit now recognizes that a temporary impairment may qualify as a disability under the ADA if it is substantially severe, so as to limit major life functions. 

      As per the now validated EEOC regulations, duration is but one factor that is relevant to the definition of a disability.  In such case, an employer cannot simply dismiss a reasonable request for accommodation on the basis that the employee is likely to recovery from the limiting condition.