Saturday, April 15, 2006

Cerebral Palsy Not a Disability, Says Tenth Circuit

On Tuesday, the Tenth Circuit issued its opinion in Holt v. Grand Lake Mental Health Center, Inc. The plaintiff was a woman with "a mild form of cerebral palsy that adversely affects her speech and her ability to perform certain activities which require fine motor coordination. Holt requires assistance when chopping, peeling, and slicing food. She sometimes has difficulty eating and must chew her food thoroughly or it will become lodged in her throat. She cannot cut her own fingernails or toenails. Holt can dress herself, but sometimes must ask for help when buttoning her clothes." She was demoted and eventually terminated from her job as a mental health clinic administrator, and she alleged that the demotion and termination reflected discrimination. The Tenth Circuit, however, ruled that the plaintiff did not have a disability for purposes of the ADA, because the limitations her condition imposed on her ability to perform manual tasks and care for herself were not "substantial."

A good example of the problems with the ADA's disability definition and the way it's been interpreted.


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