Keck v. N.Y. State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse

An employee sued her employer, a state agency, for discriminating against her based on her sensitivity to tobacco smoke and perfume in violation of federal law. The court found that the employee had raised a question of fact about whether she was substantially limited in her ability to work, which is a component of proving she was disabled. However, the court’s determination was based on the employee’s perfume sensitivity not her tobacco smoke sensitivity, which the court found was “not severe.” Even if the employee was disabled, the court ruled that the employee’s discrimination claim failed because her proposed solution – working after regular work hours and on weekends in areas where smoking was banned – was not sufficient to show that she was “qualified” for the position under the law.  The court ruled that the employee’s proposed accommodation would not allow the supervision and interaction which her employers have found necessary for her position.