In turn, a disability is (A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; or (B) a record of such impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment. The EEOC defines "a mental impairment" as "any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, Bi-Polar Disorder II, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities," for purposes of the ADA.
Thus, the question becomes whether this impairment substantially limits a major life activity. Interacting with others is a major life activity under the ADA Interacting with others is indisputably an activity of central importance to daily life, and the EEOC has recognized it as a major life activity in its compliance manual. Additionally, interacting with others is considered a major life activity under the Rehabilitation Act, and such recognition under the ADA would serve the legislative purpose of rectifying stereotypes about the mentally disabled. Neither the Supreme Court nor the Second Circuit have addressed the issue of whether interacting with others is a major life activity. The only circuit to have squarely addressed the issue has adopted it as a major life activity, and no circuit has held that interacting with others is not a major life activity. An Appellate Court has de novo review of a lower court's conclusion that the ability to interact with others is a major life activity. In Toyota, the Supreme Court explained that "the term major life activity as used in the ADA, refers to those activities that are of central importance to daily life." Because major life activity is not defined in the ADA, it should be construed according to its ordinary and natural meaning. The plain meaning of the word "major" denotes an activity that is important and significant, as well as basic. It is an "activity that the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty." Interact is defined by the dictionary to mean to "act upon one another." Interacting with others is an important and significant function and "easily falls within the definition of 'major life activity.'"
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