When ADHD Qualifies as a Disability under ADA / FEHA

desk-job-adhd-workplace-disability-ada-fehaIn Weaving v City of Hillsboro, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal made an important distinction of when ADHD symptoms make the condition a qualifying disability under ADA, and when they don’t. In dismissing Weaving’s case, the court reiterated that as per the Court’s decision in McAlindin v City of San Diego – interacting with others is a major life activity within the meaning of ADA protections, while simply¬†getting along with others isn’t.

The Court noted that ADHD is a qualifying disabilty in those severe ADHD cases, where the condition renders the employee incapable or almost incapable of communicating with the outside world, such as in the case of recurring panic attacks or debilitating anxiety that makes it impossible for an employee to interact (i.e. to even talk to his fellow employees or management). Therefore, in these kinds of severe cases, the employee will be considered disabled under the law and therefore entitled to interactive process and reasonable accommodations within ADA / FEHA.

On the other hand, being disciplined or terminated for simply not being able to get along with co-workers and management but otherwise being able to generally communicate with others in a reasonable, even if not perfect, manner, would not give rise to a disabilitly discrimination claim.