New Article on Interacting With Others as a Major Life Activity
New on Westlaw: Patrick A. Hartman, "Interacting with Others" as a Major Life Activity Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2 Seton Hall Circuit Rev. 139 (2005). From the introduction:
On any given day, almost all people come in contact with at least one or two other people, though most of us usually come in contact with many more. This contact occurs in employment settings, social settings, educational settings, and public settings, such as the street or grocery store. This contact that we have with other people can be characterized as "interacting with others" and is part of the inherent nature of humans as social beings.
Interacting with others can involve many abilities, including speaking, seeing, hearing, listening, understanding, walking, communicating, and others. These are all abilities that most people can perform to some extent, and that most people take for granted. Although some people may be better at these abilities than other people, one's skill or desire (as opposed to capability) in performing any of these abilities does not affect the fact that it is being performed or, in the context of contact with others, the fact that the person is interacting with others.
Most of the abilities listed above are considered "major life activities" under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nonetheless, there is no judicial consensus on whether "interacting with others" itself is a major life activity. Three circuits -- the First, Ninth, and Second -- have addressed the issue of whether interacting with others is a major life activity. The First Circuit has said that it is not, while the Ninth and Second Circuits have said that it is.
This article argues that interacting with others is a major life activity.