Legal Briefing: Decision on ‘Transitory’ Disabilities

By Mark Kobata

Apr. 9, 2014

Anthimos Gogos, employed by AMS Mechanical Systems Inc. as a welder and pipe fitter, took medication for chronic high blood pressure. After his blood pressure spiked, causing intermittent vision loss, Gogos told his general foreman that he was going to the hospital because his “health is not very good lately.” As a result, Gogos was terminated.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed Gogos’ complaint because his medical conditions were “transitory and suspect” and did not qualify as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that 2008 changes to the ADA expanded the law’s coverage to include disabilities even if they are transitory and minor “if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.” The ADA amendments also provide that whether a particular condition is a disability must be determined without regard to efforts the individual takes to mitigate his or her condition. Gogos v. AMS Mechanical Systems Inc., 7th Circuit, No. 13-2571 (Dec. 16, 2013).

Impact: An employee may have an ADA-covered disability, even if the impairment is transitory or episodic in nature, or if the employee takes measures to mitigate the impairment.

James E. Hall, Mark T. Kobata and Marty Denis are partners in the law firm Barlow, Kobata and Denis, which has offices in Los Angeles and Chicago. To comment, email Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

Mark Kobata and Marty Denis are partners at the law firm Barlow, Kobata and Denis, which has offices in Beverly Hills, California, and Chicago.

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