Fact or Fiction: Disabilities under the ADAAA cannot be episodic

Fact or Fiction?That’s right folks. It’s time for another edition of “Fact or Fiction” a/k/a “Quick Answers to Quick Questions” a/k/a QATQQ f/k/a “I don’t feel like writing a long blog post.”

So, let’s get right to it. In Pearce-Mato v. Shinseki, decided earlier this week, a Pennsylvania federal court reminded us that episodic impairments may, indeed, be disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act:

The fact that the periods during which an episodic impairment is active and substantially limits a major life activity may be brief or occur infrequently is no longer relevant to determining whether the impairment substantially limits a major life activity …  An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.

So, the answer to today’s question is fiction.

And here’s a bonus tip from the same case: a disabled employee does not need to request a reasonable accommodation in writing. Rather, as previously noted in this case, to request accommodation, an individual may use “plain English” and need not mention the ADA or use the phrase “reasonable accommodation.” The notice merely “must make clear that the employee wants assistance for his or her disability. In other words, the employer must know of both the disability and the employee’s desire for accommodation for that disability.”

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