Accommodation for Adderall? ADHD As A Disability

In New York on Monday, a former secretary for Viacom filed a lawsuit alleging that the company failed to accommodate her disability and terminated her in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act after she disclosed to human resources that she suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The plaintiff had worked at Viacom for more than 25 years with satisfactory reviews. When she was transferred to the legal department she began having trouble with the extra work she was given and sought assistance from her doctor.

Plaintiff alleges that four weeks after she told human resources about her disability, that she was given a written performance warning stating that she needed to improve her performance within 60 days. At the end of that time period, she was terminated – notably 35 days before the time was to expire for the company to review possible accommodations suitable for her situation. The case is Broderick v. Viacom International Inc. et al., case number 1:15-cv-09914, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

A similar lawsuit was filed in March 2015 by a former associate at Adler Murphy & McQuillen LLP. The associate claims he was terminated in violation of the ADA one day after notifying the firm about his ADHD diagnosis. That case is Aaron Paul Heeringa v. Adler Murphy & McQuillen LLP, case number1:15-cv-02476, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

With adults taking ADD medicine increasing by 85% in recent years, handling of ADD accommodations is a hot-button issue for many human resources departments. While ADD is covered under the ADA, it requires the employee to demonstrate that the disability limits a major life activity and that he or she can perform the essential job functions with accommodation. Two circuit decisions in 2002 offer support that ADD limits a major life activity. In Brown v. Cox Medical Centers (8th Cir. 2002), the court stated that the “ability to perform cognitive functions” is a major life activity. In Gagliardo v. Connaught Laboratories, Inc. (3d Cir. 2002) “concentrating and remembering” are major life activities.

For information about accommodations for disabilities or claims for wrongful termination, contact Orange County civil attorneys Ford & Diulio PC or email Jessica Diulio at