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Pregnant Employees Face a Tough Hurdle in Establishing a Disability Under the ADA

This report relates to 1 case(s)

  • expand disabled

    Serednyj v. Beverly Healthcare, LLC, 656 F.3d 540 (7th Cir. 2011) (0 other reports)

Author: William Denham, Shortt & Nguyen, PC

In Serednyj v. Beverly Healthcare, LLC, +656 F.3d 540 (7th Cir. 2011), the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals addressed whether an employee with pregnancy related complications qualified as an individual with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities. +42 U.S.C. 12112 et seq. The ADA defines a disability as:

  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • A record of having such an impairment; or
  • Being regarded as having such an impairment.

When the 7th Circuit decided this case, it narrowly interpreted the statutory definition of disability and held that the employee's pregnancy - despite its complications - was not a disability under the ADA. However, with the passage of the ADA Amendments Act, which took effect January 1, 2009, and its regulations, which took effect May 24, 2011, Congress directed the courts to adopt a less-restrictive interpretation. Now, courts and employers should not extensively analyze whether an individual's impairment is a disability, and rather, they should focus on the interactive process. Pub. L. No. 110-325, +122 Stat. 3553 (2008).