Can vision problems be a disability under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) or its amendments (ADAAA).
In Nathan v. Holder, 2013 WL 3965241 (E.E.O.C. July 19, 2013) an employee filed a complaint under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. The applicant for employment was a rejected applicant for an FBI Special Agent position. The EEOC concluded that a vision requirement used to exclude the applicant because of his monocular vision was a qualification standard, not an essential function as the agency had maintained. (It is illegal to discriminate against an applicant or an employee if they can do an essential function of the job). The EEOC further found that the agency had failed to do an individualized assessment to determine whether applicant could perform the essential functions of the Special Agent position, particularly the function of “clearing a room,” which the agency claimed the applicant could not do effectively because of his monocular vision. In the absence of such an individualized assessment, the agency was unable to demonstrate that applicant would have posed a direct threat in the Special Agent position. This case shows that before an employer refuses to hire an applicant or or promote an employee they should make absolutely sure that the qualifications they exclude applicant on is an essential function of the job.