Rohr v. Salt River Project Agric. Improvement & Power Dist., 2009 WL 349798 (9th Cir. 2009)

Larry Rohr, an insulin-dependent type 2 diabetic, brought suit for employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The district court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that he failed to raise a material issue of fact concerning whether he had a disability within the meaning of the ADA and because of his inability to complete a certification test, which rendered him unqualified for his position as a welding metallurgy specialist. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the judgment, holding that “diabetes is a ‘physical impairment’ because it affects the digestive, hemic and endocrine systems, and eating is a ‘major life activity.’” Further, the Court held that Rohr had raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether he is “significantly restricted as to the condition, manner or duration” in which he can eat, compared to the general population. (Although the Court did not have to decide whether the ADA Amendments Act (“ADAAA”), which became effective on January 1, 2009, applied to this case, it noted that the ADAAA “sheds light on Congress’ original intent when it enacted the ADA.”) Finally, the Court held that Rohr also raised a genuine issue as to whether he was “qualified” for his position within the meaning of the ADA, “since with the exception of the respirator certification requirement, which may itself be found to be discriminatory, he provided sufficient evidence that he satisfied all of Salt River’s job-related requirements and could perform the essential functions of his position.”