Thursday, July 3, 2008

Judge Rules PTSD covered under disability law

Federal appeals court rules Rehabilitation Act extends to post-traumatic stress
Nick Fiske at 6:48 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia [official website] on Wednesday reversed [opinion, PDF] a district court ruling and found that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [NIMH backgrounder] may qualify as a disability under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 [text, DOC]. The plaintiff in the case, Martin Desmond, alleged that he was forced to resign from the FBI New Agent Training Unit [FBI backgrounder] in Quantico, VA when his superiors learned that he suffered from PTSD.

Desmond argued that his dismissal from the program constituted discrimination based on disability, in violation of Section 501 of the Act. In its ruling, the court explained that under the Rehabilitation Act a plaintiff is disabled if "(1) he suffers from an impairment; (2) the impairment limits an activity that constitutes a major life activity under the Act; and (3) the limitation is substantial." Finding that PTSD qualified as a "mental impairment" and that sleep constituted a "major life activity," the court concluded that the condition was covered by the Act where evidence of significant sleeplessness exists. The case was remanded for further proceedings.
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