Nicotine Addiction Is Not a Disability Under the ADA


Added on  2019-09-16

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE ANYWHERE DISTRICTNicholas Taylor,) Plaintiff)v.)No. 07-0158Whitney Industries, Inc.,) Defendant)________________________)MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN SUPPORT OFMOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENTPursuant to Fed. Rule Civ. P. 56(c), Defendant Whitney Industries Inc. (“Whitney”) respectfully requests that this Court grant its Motion for Summary Judgment.STATEMENT OF FACTSThis action, brought by Plaintiff Nicholas Taylor (Taylor) against Whitney arises out of the following factual situation. All facts are undisputed.Whitney is a large national corporation with approximately 1000 employees. It was decided by Whitney that they would charge its employees who smoke an additional $100 per month for health insurance. This decision was based on both Whitneys desire tocontrol spiraling health care costs and to promote a healthy lifestyle for its employees. The surcharge of $100 reflects the actual costs to Whitney of increased health care costs attributable to smoking. Plaintiff Taylor objected to the new policy and after her charge
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against the company was rejected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sued the company, alleging that the new policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act because his addiction to smoking is a “disability” within the meaning of the Act.I.STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENTSummary judgment shall be entered "forthwith" if the moving papers before the Court establish "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law" Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Whitney will demonstrate that there is now genuine issue as to any material fact in this case and that it is thus entitled to summary judgment.II.THE ADA PROTECTS ONLY THOSE WITH A DISABILITYWHICH SUBSTANTIALLY LIMITS A MAJOR LIFE ACTIVITYThe Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA” or the “Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 – 12213 (2000), was signed into law in 90 to offer protection to those with disabilities. TheADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Id. § 12112. Taylor has alleged that Whitney’s policy of charging employees who smoke a monthly insurance surcharge is discrimination with regard to compensation. The Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees. § 12111. Whitney acknowledges that it is covered by the Act.Employment discrimination is prohibited against individuals with disabilities. Anindividual is considered to have a “disability” if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record or suchimpairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Id. § 12102. The Equal
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Employment Opportunity Commission has issued regulations to provide additional guidance regarding the interpretation of the term “disability” Those regulations provide that the term “substantially limits” means that one is unable to perform a major life activity that average person in the general population can perform. 29 CFR § 1630.2 (2007). “Major life activities” means functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. Id. To establish an ADA disability, a plaintiff must demonstrate the he is impaired, that the life activity that is impaired is a “major life activity,” and that the impairment “substantially limits” that life activity. Roig v. Miami Federal Credit Union, 353 F. Sup. 2d 1213, 1216 (S.D. Fla. 2005). The requirement that a plaintiff prove that the impairment “substantially limits a major life activity is a severe standard and must include permanent or long-term restrictions on performance of the life activity. Id.Whitney will show that nicotine addiction is not an impairment that substantially limits any major life activity and thus it is not a disability under the ADA.III.NICOTINE ADDICTION IS NOT A DISABILITY UNDER THE ADAIt is highly unlikely that Congress intended that these addicted to nicotine would be covered by the ADA. Section 12201b of the Act specifically provides that “nothing inthis Act shall be construed to preclude the prohibition of, or the imposition of restrictions on, smoking in places of employment . . . . It is inconceivable that Congress would intend to treat nicotine addiction as a disability while simultaneously allowing employers to prohibit smoking in the workplace.Moreover, the cases that have examined whether nicotine addiction constitutes a disability under the Act have consistently found that smokers are not covered by the
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