Better Call Saul: Seventh Circuit Rejects WiFi Allergy Claim Under the ADA

In the consistently brilliant and hilarious AMC series Better Call Saul, the always upright lawyer brother of the ethically challenged Jimmy McGill suffers from an electromagnetic sensitivity that leaves him mostly housebound.  This is perhaps the first popular portrayal of what is coming to be known as “WiFi Allergy.”  Judge Posner of the Seventh Circuit shot down a claim under the Americans With Disabilities Act for such an ailment last week in Hirmiz v. New Harrison Hotel Corp., No. 15 C 6874 (April 6, 2017).  The interesting news is that the Court appears open to recognizing that such an ailment could qualify for relief under the ADA, if sufficient evidence is presented enabling the Court to decide whether or not electromagnetic sensitivity meets the ADA’s definition of a “disability.”

In the case, the Plaintiff hotel clerk was terminated for sleeping at the front desk when a fight broke out in the lobby.  He sued, claiming that the Employer hotel chain failed to accommodate his electromagnetic sensitivity.  In rejecting the claim on the ground that the Plaintiff presented insufficient evidence of the impairments or limitations caused by the ailment, Judge Posner nonetheless acknowledged that “[t]here is debate in the medical community over whether sensitivity to electromagnetic voltage is a physical disorder or a psychological one.”

Such dictum might be a slim opening for another Plaintiff, but it is an opening nonetheless.

Read the full opinion here.

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