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12.6 ADA—Qualified Individual

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The second element of the ADA claim that the plaintiff must prove is that the plaintiff is a qualified individual under the ADA.

The term qualified individual means an individual with a disability who, with or without a reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires. The individual must satisfy the requisite skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the employment position.


See 42 U.S.C. § 12111 (employment-related definitions); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(m) (qualified individual). For a definition of "disability," see Instruction 12.2 (ADA—Physical or Mental Impairment).

A disabled employee or applicant engaged in the use of illegal drugs at the time of the discriminatory incident will not be considered a "qualified individual with a disability." 42 U.S.C. § 12114(a).

"Holds or desires" has been interpreted by the Ninth Circuit to apply in situations where employees request reassignment "even if they cannot perform the essential functions of the current position." Barnett v. U. S. Air, Inc., 228 F.3d 1105, 1111 (9th Cir.2000), vacated on other grounds, 535 U.S. 391 (2002).

One who is disabled and seeking reasonable accommodation may be a "qualified individual" even when that person has asserted a permanent disability in connection with an application for disability retirement or benefits under a private disability insurance policy. Smith v. Clark Cnty. Sch. Dist., 727 F.3d 950, 956-58 (9th Cir.2013).

 Approved 10/2013