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ADA impairment need not be
permanent or have long-term effects

Shields v. Credit One Bank (9th Cir 05/06/2022)
Sent to Custom Alerts™ subscribers on 05/06/2022

The 9th Circuit held that in order to be substantially limiting, an impairment need not involve permanent or long-term effects.

Kate Shields alleged that she underwent a bone biopsy surgery of her right shoulder and arm, and due to the substantial physical impact of the biopsy surgery itself, she was unable to return to work for several months.

Shields claimed her former employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to accommodate her disability and instead terminating her from her human resources job after she underwent the biopsy.

The trial court dismissed the case, saying that Shields failed to plead a "disability" because an impairment is not substantially limiting unless it involves "permanent or long-term effects."

The 9th Circuit reversed. In order to be substantially limiting, an impairment need not involve permanent or long-term effects.

The court applied the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and regulations issued in 2011.

The court concluded that Shields pleaded facts plausibly establishing that she had a physical impairment both during an immediate post-surgical period and during an extension period in which her surgeon concluded that her injuries had not sufficiently healed to permit her to return to work.

The court also concluded that the activities that Shields pleaded she was unable to perform qualified as “major life activities,” which include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, lifting, and working.

Finally, her complaint adequately alleged that Shields’s impairment substantially limited her ability to perform at least one major life activity.

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