Upon filing both federal FMLA and ADA claims, the employer moved for summary judgment arguing the plaintiff was not disabled as defined under the ADA and the district court granted the motion. On appeal, the 10th Circuit noted that the plaintiff had to show that: (1) she had a recognized “impairment;” and (2) the impairment substantially limited one or more of her major life activities. It was undisputed that the migraines were an "impairment" but what was disputed was whether the plaintiff was substantially limited in one or more of her major life activities. The plaintiff claimed that the migraines affected her ability to “work,” to “care for herself,” and to “sleep.”
The employer was able to prevail on appeal but critiquing the plaintiff's daily routines both when she had migraine pains and when she didn't. The 10th Circuit was not persuaded that the plaintiff's migraines as an impairment "substantially limited her in one or more of her major life activities."
This decision does not mean that migraines are not disabilities ever under the ADA as disability discrimination cases are a case-by-case evaluation. It may be that a different plaintiff suffering from migraines may very well be substantially limited in major life activities to qualify as an individual with a disability under the ADA.