ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. ADHD is a mental health disorder that can include recurring issues such as difficulty paying attention or impulsive behavior. This disorder is characterized by symptoms that are related to learning or focusing. This disorder is typically considered to be a child or adolescent issue.
Although the symptoms may not be as clear in adults, ADHD does affect adults as well. It may cause issues in areas of an adult’s life such as:
- Social life; or
Adult ADHD often makes daily tasks difficult to complete. For example, an individual with adult ADHD may be forgetful, unable to prioritize work or deadlines, or have trouble multitasking. It is important to note, in order for adult ADHD to be considered a medical disability, the symptoms must be so severe that they interfere with the individual’s ability to perform major life activities. These may include:
- Learning; or
- Other major functions.
ADHD has been linked to poor work performance. Workplace disputes involving ADHD often arise as well. Unfortunately, one of the most common workplace disputes is workplace discrimination. If an individual is treated less favorably than other employees as a result of their ADHD diagnosis, it may be considered workplace or employment discrimination.
The majority of states, as well as the federal government, have enacted laws to prohibit private employers, organizations, or governments from engaging in discrimination against their employees who belong to a protected class. Disability is considered to be a protected class. Adult ADHD is classified as a medical disability, or, more commonly, a learning disability. Therefore, if an employer fails to provide reasonable workplace accommodations to an employee who suffers from adult ADHD, it may be considered workplace discrimination.
What are Some Other Legal Issues Involved in Adult ADHD Lawsuits?
Workplace discrimination and wrongful termination are the main legal issues involved in adult ADHD lawsuits. There are, however, other legal issues that may arise outside of the workplace. There may be various issues, such as issues related to medical treatments. These can include medical malpractices issues or issues with ADHD drugs or medicine.
Medical malpractice is negligence on the part of a healthcare professional that leads to the injury of a patient with whom they have or had a professional relationship. Some examples of medical malpractice related to ADHD may include:
- Failure to diagnose;
- Incorrect diagnosis;
- Failure to property treat;
- Unreasonable delay in treatment after diagnosis; or
- Failure to provide informed consent.
Individuals in the medical profession, including, doctors, nurses, or other licensed healthcare professionals, are held to a standard of care for their profession. Failure to meet that standard can result in a finding of liability.
There are several elements the plaintiff must show in order to prove medical malpractice. These include:
- A relationship existed between the healthcare professional and the patient;
- The healthcare professional was negligent in some aspect of the patient’s treatment,
- The healthcare professional failed to meet the standard of care for their profession;
- The negligence of the healthcare professional caused an actual injury to the patient; and
- The injury resulted in measurable damages to the patient, including:
- physical pain;
- mental pain and suffering; or
- loss of income.
Injuries from ADHD drugs and medication are some of the most common lawsuit issues related to ADHD. These lawsuits may be brought under several different legal theories. However, the most common theory is medication error as a defective product claim. Medication error may include an error in administering or prescribing incorrect medication for the patient’s condition. This may include errors in dosage or errors in administration instructions.
In addition, if a drug manufacturer fails to inform patients of side effects or other problems related to ingestion of the drug, they can be sued if the drug is deemed defective. In order to prove a defective product case, the plaintiff must show:
- The product had a defect that was dangerous and unreasonable;
- That dangerous, unreasonable defect was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury;
- The plaintiff was using the medication in the manner intended by the manufacturer; and
- The product was altered substantially from the way it was originally sold.
What are Examples of Reasonable Accommodation in the Workplace for ADHD?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures individuals with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as those without disabilities. The ADA provides that an employer must make reasonable accommodations for their disabled employees. Reasonable accommodations should be made to the work environment, schedule, or procedures.
There are many examples of potential ADHD workplace accommodations, including:
- Providing structured breaks;
- Providing a private workspace;
- Providing a quiet work space;
- Permitting the use of noise cancellation or white noise;
- Uninterrupted work time;
- Providing to-do lists; or
- Using assistive technology, including calendars and timers.
What if My Rights Have been Violated Due to an ADHD Condition?
In recent years, lawsuits as a result of wrongful termination based on ADHD have become more commonplace. Wrongful termination occurs when an employer terminates or lays off an employee for reasons that are against public policy, unjust, or illegal. Workplace discrimination generally goes hand in hand with wrongful termination. An employee who has ADHD and is fired because of ADHD, may have a claim for wrongful termination.
Another ADHD discrimination issue includes the denial of employment rights, or denial of benefits. Employment rights are in place to protect the safety and quality of the work environment for the employer and their employees.
For the most part, federal laws and statutes govern the majority of employment rights. A violation of these rights may lead to serious legal consequences for employers and employees who are involved.
If an individual’s rights have been violated because of an ADHD condition, they may be required to file a claim for relief with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Prior to filing a lawsuit against an employer, an individual will usually need a right to sue letter from a government agency, such as the EEOC. Legal relief for a denial of employment rights may include a monetary damages award intended to compensate the individual for their losses.
How Do I File an Adult ADHD Discrimination Complaint?
If an individual is discriminated against at work based on their ADHD, they should file a complaint with the EEOC. This complaint must be filed with 180 days of the alleged discrimination. The EEOC will investigate the complaint.
If the EEOC’s investigation determines that there is reasonable cause to believe the facts of the complaint are true, they will attempt to settle the issue. If that attempt is unsuccessful, the EEOC may issue the complaining party a notice of right to sue. A party may then file a lawsuit in court based on the workplace discrimination.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help with an Adult ADHD Lawsuit?
Yes, it is essential to have the assistance of an experienced discrimination lawyer for any ADHD lawsuit, including ADHD discrimination in the workplace. An attorney can review your case, determine what steps you need to take, and assist you with filing a lawsuit, if necessary. Your attorney will represent you during any court proceedings.
Workplace discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuits, especially those involving a medical condition, can be very complex. These types of cases require a substantial amount of proof from the plaintiff. An attorney will be best equipped to gather and present this evidence in court.