HR Management & Compliance

Court Issues Guidance to Employers Facing ADA ‘Regarded As’ Claims

By Jenie Van Hampton, JD

A recent case decided by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals—which covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin—provides helpful guidance for addressing “regarded as” disabled claims brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In defending its adverse actions against the employee, the employer rejected his claim that it regarded him as disabled because his impairment was both “transitory” and “minor.” The court held, however, that the employer didn’t adequately prove the employee’s condition was—objectively speaking—both transitory and minor.

Further, a dispute over what was said at a particular meeting allowed the employee’s otherwise weak claim to go to a jury. This case underscores the importance of making sure you have good documentation of any meeting that results in tangible job changes.

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