I’ll bet you that they didn’t ask about this on the SHRM-CP exam, did they?
Meet Ms. “X.”
(I’m not going to use her real name because I don’t need y’all blowing up her social media.)
Actually, instead of Ms. “X,” let’s call her “Plaintiff.”
Plaintiff filed this complaint in federal court — fine, I’ll wait while you Google — in which she alleges that in December 2019, she informed her immediate supervisor that she “suspected she suffered from a love/sex addiction” and was in the process of identifying a therapist with whom to pursue treatment.
Now, according to her complaint, Plaintiff served as Defendant’s “Director of IT Operations” at the time of her termination. She further alleged that on January 19, 2020, the website for one of Defendant’s customers “suffered a widespread and lengthy outage,” for which Plaintiff’s department was responsible. On January 23, 2020, Plaintiff took a personal day “to attend an emergency counseling session relating to her condition,” where she was officially diagnosed with a “love/sex addiction.” When Plaintiff returned to the office on January 24, 2020, she disclosed her diagnosis to her immediate supervisor, the same day that Defendant fired her. Defendant stated that her termination was related to the customer outage. Plaintiff claims that others were to blame too, but Defendant singled her out because of her “love/sex addiction” and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
While true that the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against a qualified individual based on disability, a plaintiff must prove that she has a, you know, disability.
When George Michael released “I Want Your Sex” back in 1987, he described that desire as “natural,” “chemical,” “logical,” “habitual,” and “sensual.”
(Good luck getting that song out of your head for the rest of the day.)
But, George Michael’s release predates the ADA by three years. When the ADA came along in 1990, it defined disability as “(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment.”
That’s a pretty broad definition. However, the ADA has some carve-outs, including “transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders.” Plus, no court has recognized a love/sex addiction as a covered disability under the ADA.
Now, if the plaintiff had an underlying disability — like in this case, PTSD — that caused the plaintiff to develop a sex addiction, then an adverse employment action connected to the underlying disability may lead to a viable claim under the ADA. But, standing alone, a love/sex addiction won’t cut it.
As a side note, how would you accommodate that disability anyway? Don’t answer that. I already did. Yet, no court has ever cited my work.