LIEB BLOG

How current events impact business & real estate

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Court Rules Short Term Injuries Now Qualify As Disabilities Under ADA

Many more disability lawsuits are anticipated after the 2nd Circuit ruled that temporary injuries qualify as disabilities under ADA. 


An injury that only lasts 19 days can constitute a qualifying disability for purposes of a failure-to-accommodate claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Hamilton v. Westchester Cnty


For background, disabled individuals have a legal right to demand a reasonable accommodation from rules, policies, and procedures so that they can have equal access to public services, enjoyment of property, and opportunities at work. 


When disabled individuals are denied rightfully requested accommodations, lawsuits happen for big $$. 


When disabled individuals aren't provided with a forum to negotiate an accommodation, known as the interactive process, lawsuits happen for big $$. 


When disabled individuals aren't even provided with an opportunity to request an accommodation in the first place (such as by a form or notice), lawsuits happen for big $$. 


Simply, disability discrimination law is a really big deal, with big numbers at stake, to employers and property owners / managers. In fact, 26% of US adults have some sort of disability according to the CDC. As a result, every employer and property owner / manager must understand this new change in the law. 


Before this case, it was unclear in the Second Circuit, which controls NY, CT, & VT, whether an individual with a short-term disability from an injury could qualify for an accommodation under the law. 


Now, we know that they qualify. 


While the case before the Circuit Court was about an inmate at the Westchester County Jail, who claimed a denial of an opportunity to participate in or benefit from services, programs, or activities, under Title II of the ADA, the takeaway is that temporary disabilities can trigger the protections of the ADA under all three of its Titles, including:

  • Title I - Employment & Hiring
  • Title II - Public Services, Programs, & Activities
  • Title III - Public Accommodations (i.e., commercial property & websites) 


It is clear that the Circuit Court intended all three Titles to apply to temporary disabilities because it expressly based its decision on the 2008 ADA Amendments Act, which broadened the definition of "disability" under the ADA to include temporary or Transitory injuries. In so reasoning, the Circuit Court pointed to 28 CFR 25.108(d)(ix) (i.e., the regulations to the ADA) to find that a "'disability' shorter than six months in duration now can be actionable under the ADA." 


Now, all employers, property owners, brokers, property managers, and governmental officials in NY, CT, & VT better adjust their policies and afford rights to those disabled from injuries (even really short-term injuries) or they are going to get sued?


Have you ever been denied your rights to have policies adjusted to enable you to have the full enjoyment of life, which was otherwise problematic because of your disability?

Shouldn't disabled people be given every benefit to fully enjoy life?

This is good law.




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