Walton v. U.S. Marshals Service: When Is An Employee "Regarded As" Disabled?

April 2007
Employment Law Notes
A recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision sheds important light on what an employee must show in order to establish that s/he is “regarded as disabled” under the Rehabilitation Act (the “Act”). Walton v. U.S. Marshals Service, 476 F.3d 723 (9th Cir. 2007). Fortunately for employers, Walton holds that an employer’s mere awareness of an employee’s impairment is insufficient to satisfy the “regarded as” requirement. Instead, an employee must also prove that the employer believed that the impairment substantially limited her/his major life activities or that s/he was, in fact, so limited.