That's What She Said


Litigation value: Ryan gets nothing today, but in a few years ….. who knows?

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) significantly broadened the ADA’s definition of disability. Ryan had me asking myself how much during last night’s rerun episode, Trivia. During the trivia contest, the organizers confiscated Ryan’s smartphone. Ryan held out for all of eight seconds before deciding that he would rather be ejected from the bar with his smartphone than remain there and compete for $1,000 without it.

Does Ryan have a disability under the ADAAA? Might Dunder Mifflin have to seek a reasonable accommodation for Ryan if he requests one? The answer today is likely “no,” but that could change in the not-too-distant future.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is scheduled for publication in May 2013. The American Psychiatric Association has released its proposed revisions to the DSM for comment. In the section dealing with substance-related disorders, the APA is recommending that “internet use disorder” undergo further study. Are we nearing the point where an employee’s inability to log off Facebook or turn off his iPhone is a disability?

The ADAAA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The statute greatly expanded the scope of what constitutes a major life activity and now includes sleeping, thinking, concentrating, and working, just to list a few. If future editions of the DSM include disorders related to technology usage, watch out, employers. That employee who is always tardy or has trouble focusing because he cannot put down his Droid may come to you for an accommodation. Fire him at your peril.

Siri, is the law an ass?