Thursday, January 20, 2005

N.D. Ill. on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as a Disability

New on Westlaw: In Ulatowski v. John Sterling Corp., 2005 WL 88971 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 10, 2005), the court ruled that the plaintiff had satisfied her burden, at the summary judgment stage, of showing that her carpal tunnel syndrome was an ADA "disability." The court noted that the plaintiff had presented evidence that her condition rendered her unable to perform assembly line or production work, and she also introduced "evidence that carpal tunnel syndrome affects her ability to perform manual tasks in activities of central importance to daily life outside the work environment, including activities relating to caring for herself." A good reminder not to read Toyota v. Williams too broadly.

Also a good reminder of the Catch-22 disability rights advocates also talk about. Despite its definition-of-disability ruling, the court granted summary judgment to the employer on the ground that the plaintiff was not a "qualified" individual. In the court's view, the plaintiff admitted she couldn't perform the functions of her old assembly line job, and the employer had no alternative positions available that she could perform. Nor, the court concluded, was the employer required to create a new light duty position for the plaintiff to perform.


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