Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Social Anxiety Disorder and Difficulty in "Interacting with Others" Is Now Disability Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

... The federal district court granted summary judgment in favor of the [employer], finding that Jacobs’ social anxiety disorder was not a disability as a matter of law under the ADA. 
On appeal, however, the Fourth Circuit reversed that dismissal, agreeing with the EEOC’s view that interacting with others is a major life activity, and pointing out that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s fourth edition (DSM-IV) describes social anxiety disorder as a condition that “interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine, occupational . . . functioning, or social activities or relationships.” Therefore, under the ADA, social anxiety disorder would be viewed as a disability. 
The court’s opinion includes a detailed explanation of the mistaken analysis of the district court. While the opinion includes numerous important analytical points – specifically including the analysis of social anxiety disorder as a per se disability under the ADA – the court raised two additional issues of which employers should take particular note. ...