ADHD refers to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It is a mental health disorder, and can include recurring issues such as difficulty paying attention and impulsive behavior. This medical condition is also characterized by symptoms related to learning and focusing. ADHD is often considered to be a child or adolescent issue because symptoms may not be as clear in adults.
However, it does affect adults as well, and can cause issues in their family, social, and employment areas. ADHD in adults often makes daily tasks difficult. For example, a person with adult ADHD may find themselves forgetting about meetings, unable to prioritize work and deadlines, and having trouble multitasking.
ADHD has been connected with poor work performance, and workplace disputes involving ADHD can often arise. Unfortunately, workplace discrimination is one of the most common workplace disputes. If someone is treated less favorably because of their ADHD diagnosis, it could be considered workplace or employment discrimination.
Most states, as well as the federal government, have laws in place in order to prohibit private employers, organizations, or governments from discriminating against their employees who belong to certain protected classes. “Disability” is considered to be a protected class, and adult ADHD is considered to be a medical disability, or more commonly, a learning disability. Therefore, if an employer fails to provide reasonable workplace accommodations to an employee with adult ADHD, it may be considered workplace discrimination.
It is important to note that, in order for adult ADHD to be considered a medical disability, the symptoms of the disorder must be so severe that they interfere with a person’s ability to perform “major life activities.” These activities include walking, talking, working, learning, and other major functions.
Although workplace discrimination and wrongful termination are the main legal issues involving adult ADHD, other legal issues may arise outside of the workplace. The other issues may include various issues related to medical treatments, such as medical malpractice or issues with ADHD drugs and medicine.
Medical malpractice is essentially negligence on the part of a healthcare professional which leads to the injury of a patient with whom they have or had a professional relationship. In terms of ADHD, some examples of medical malpractice might include failure to diagnose, incorrect diagnosis, failure to treat properly, unreasonable delay in treatment after diagnosis, or failure to provide informed consent.
Doctors, nurses, and other licensed healthcare professionals are held to a certain standard of care for their profession. Failing to meet that standard may result in them being held liable.
In order to prove liability for medical malpractice, the plaintiff will need to prove a few specific things including:
- The fact that the healthcare professional had a professional relationship with the patient;
- That the healthcare professional was negligent in some aspect of the patient’s treatment, by failing to meet the standard of care they have been charged with;
- The healthcare professional’s negligence caused an actual injury to the patient; and
- This injury lead to measurable damages to the patient, such as disability, physical pain, mental pain and suffering, or loss of income.
One of the most common lawsuits involving issues with ADHD involves being injured by ADHD drugs and medication. A lawsuit can often be brought under different legal theories, but is most commonly brought under a theory of medication error or as a defective product claim. Medication error refers to administering or prescribing the wrong medication for a patient’s condition, including errors in dosage and instructions.
Additionally, if a drug maker fails to inform patients of side effects or other problems related to using that drug, they could be sued if the drug is deemed defective. In order to prove a defective product case, the plaintiff must prove:
- The product had a dangerous, unreasonable defect;
- That dangerous, unreasonable defect caused the plaintiff’s injury while they were using the medication in the manner intended by the manufacturer; and
- The product has not been altered substantially from the way it was originally sold.
Recently, lawsuits for wrongful termination based on an ADHD condition have become more commonplace. Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires or lays off an employee for reasons that are either unjust, against public policy, or illegal. Workplace discrimination often goes hand in hand with wrongful termination. If an employee who has adult ADHD is terminated from their position because of their ADHD, they could have a wrongful termination suit.
Another issue is the denial of employment rights, or denial of benefits due to ADHD discrimination. Employment rights exist to protect the safety and quality of the work environment for both the employer and all employees. In general, federal laws and statutes govern the majority of employment rights. Violations of those rights can often lead to serious legal penalties for employers as well as any employees who may be involved.
If your rights or your loved one’s rights have been violated due to an ADHD condition, you may need to file a claim for relief with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Legal relief for denial of employment rights may consist of a monetary damages award in order to compensate you for your losses.
Before pursuing a civil lawsuit against your employer, you will typically need to file a claim for relief with a government agency first, as often the government agency will have to grant you a “right to sue letter.”
In order to pursue legal action concerning adult ADHD issues, whether medical malpractice or workplace discrimination, you may want to consult with a skilled and knowledgeable employment attorney.
As can be seen, cases involving discrimination require a substantial amount of proof on the plaintiff’s part, and an experienced employement attorney will best understand how to do so. Further, they will help you file a lawsuit, as well as represent you in court, if necessary.