American Disability Act Case Review
On July 21, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of an employee’s lawsuit which alleged her employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because her 4’6” height was “too short” for her assigned worktable. Her request for a shorter table was denied. Her employer terminated her shortly thereafter. The Court affirmed holding that she was unable to establish that she was a person with a disability. Under the ADA, an individual has a “disability” if she or he has (a) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) has a record of such impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. An “impairment” is any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems. “Impairment” does not include physical characteristics such as eye color, hair color, left-handedness, height, weight, or muscle tone that are within “normal” range and are not the result of a physiological disorder. Although the employee alleged she was short, she did not allege her height was the result of a physiological condition. As a general rule, employers are free to decide that physical characteristics or medical conditions that do not rise to the level of an impairment, such as one’s height, build, weight, or even singing voice are preferable to others.