WASHINGTON (CN) – Having sex is a “major life activity” under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the D.C. Circuit ruled, reviving the claims of a U.S. Foreign Service candidate who said the government had no right to lower her medical clearance based on her disability as a breast-cancer survivor.
After Kathy Adams had a successful mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, the State Department told her that she was no longer eligible for a job with the Foreign Service because the overseas posts might not be able to provide the quality follow-up care she needed.
Adams tried to save her candidacy by submitting a letter from her doctor, stating that Adams has the ability to work “anywhere in the world for prolonged periods of time.”
Nonetheless, the government lowered her medical clearance, denying her entrance into the Foreign Service.
She sued the State Department, claiming it discriminated against her based on her status as a cancer survivor, even though she was “fit as a fiddle.”
The district court agreed with the government that Adams failed to show she had a disability as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Judge Tatel, writing for the majority, concluded that Adams does not have an actual or perceived disability, but she does have a record of an impairment that substantially limits “one or more … major life activities.” Adams claimed that her disability limits her ability to enjoy a normal sex life.
“Based on the statute’s text … and a hefty dose of common sense, we hold that engaging in sexual relations qualifies as a major life activity under the Act,” Tatel wrote.
The court reversed and remanded.