Tuesday, December 11, 2012

N.D. Ill.: Under ADAAA, Asthma Triggered by Strong Perfume Might Be Disability

A couple of weeks ago, Judge John A. Nordberg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued a ruling denying the defendants' motion to dismiss in Kobler v. Illinois Dept. Human Services, 2012 WL 5995836 (N.D. Ill., Nov. 30, 2012).  Kobler, a nurse who worked at a mental health facility operated by the defendants, alleged that they failed to accommodate her asthma, which was triggered by exposure to strong perfumes and fragrances.  The defendants moved to dismiss.  Among other things, they argued that Kobler's "asthma cannot qualify as substantially limiting if it is only triggered when she is exposed to a fragrance."  They cited "several cases holding that an intermittent flare-up is not enough to render a condition substantially limiting."  The court rejected that argument.  The court found persuasive Kobler's argument that "defendants' cases were decided before the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 expanded the definition of disability," and that "following the 2008 amendments, courts have found episodic conditions to be covered if they would substantially limit a life activity when those conditions were active."

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