American’s suffering from sleep disorders can rest easy now that the D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of considering the disabilities under the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Those suffering from a lack of sleep have seen employers question for years the legitimacy of their claims, considering none severe enough to qualify as a disability.
In the case of Desmond v. Mukasey, FBI special agent trainee Martin Desmond accused the FBI of discriminating against him for a sleep disorder he developed from his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Desmond worked with a number of FBI officials to treat his condition and applied for a location transfer in order to relieve some of his symptoms to no avail. Ultimately, Desmond was kept from graduating from the special agent program sparking the lawsuit into action. The suit purported that the FBI refused to recognize Desmond’s inability to sleep as a viable disorder and that discrimination ensued.
The court ruled in favor of Desmond and set the precedent that all employers must consider sleep disorders in the same light as all other disabilities. For sufferers, the affect of the loss of sleep will have no bearing on whether or not it is considered a disability. Any person receiving only 2 to 4 hours of sleep a night for a period of at least 5 months is considered to suffer from a disorder that affects “major life activity”. Upon this decision, anyone suffering from a sleep disorder has the right to invoke any and all provisions under both the Rehabilitation as well as the Americans with Disabilities Acts without further scrutiny.