More on this amazing story after the jump.
She had a chemical imbalance, folks.
In a decision that can only be described as touchy, a Brazilian judge has reportedly ruled that a 36-year-old female accountant can legally masturbate at work and watch porn on her work computer.
Ana Catarian Bezerra successfully argued that she suffers from a chemical imbalance that triggers severe anxiety and hypersexuality, according to a viral news story.
Her work situation began to suffer because the only way she can relieve her anxiety is by masturbating frequently, according to Guanabee.com.
"I got so bad I would to masturbate up to 47 times a day," she said. "That's when I asked for help, I knew it wasn't normal."
After winning a court battle and seeking professional help, Bezerra is legally entitled to combine work with pleasure.
Her doctor has also given her a medical cocktail of tranquilizers that has reduced her need to masturbate to about 18 times a day.
Would an American business be required to similarly "accommodate" an employee?
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment. "In general, an accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities."
There is an exception to the reasonable accommodation requirement. That is, if an accommodation would cause undue hardship to the employer, then it does not have to accommodate the employee. Undue hardship refers not only to financial difficulty, but to reasonable accommodations that are unduly extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or those that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.
The first question is whether, under the ADA, Ms. Bezerra would be considered "disabled."
Under the ADA, an individual is disabled if: (a) he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (b) a record of such an impairment; (c) is regarded as having such an impairment. Under the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), which took effect on January 1, 2009, an impairment need not prevent, or significantly or severely restrict, performance of a major life activity to be "substantially limiting." In fact, under the ADA, disability "shall be construed in favor of broad coverage" and "should not require extensive analysis."
*** I found one pre-ADAAA case in which the plaintiff alleged he had a sex addiction. Notably, however, the plaintiff did not claim that his sex addiction rendered him disabled. ***
Under the ADAAA, Ms. Bezerra, who does not claim to have a sex addiction, but rather a chemical imbalance that triggers severe hypersexuality and anxiety, has a decent argument that she is disabled.
So how could a company accommodate her? If Ms. Bezerra has an office with a door (and a working lock), maybe her employer could afford her some time each day to masturbate at work and watch porn on her work computer.
But is that reasonable? The Huffington Post article notes that, even on medication, Ms. Bezerra needs to masturbate about 18 times per day. Not knowing how long it takes for Ms. Bezerra to reach orgasm, it could be that giving her the "alone time" to masturbate that much would be considered unduly extensive, substantial, or disruptive.
Then again, if Ms. Bezerra is like the average woman, it would only take her four minutes per "session" to climax. 18 times 4 is 72. Assuming that Ms. Bezerra works an 8-hour day, providing her with 72 minutes to masturbate appears to comport with EEOC Enforcement Guidance, which lists "part-time or modified work schedules" as a common type of reasonable accommodation.
So is this a reasonable accommodation? Are there other equally-effective reasonable accommodations that the employer could afford Ms. Bezerra? We'll leave that to the courts to decide. In the meantime, if any of my clients are presented with this issue, feel free to call.