‘Social anxiety disorder’ may be a protected disability

Christina Jacobs worked at a county courthouse in North Carolina. She suffered from “social anxiety disorder,” which makes it very hard for a person to handle certain situations involving interacting with others.

Christina was apparently doing okay when her job consisted of microfilming and filing. But when she was shifted to a deputy clerk position that required her to interact with the public, she started to have panic attacks.

She told her supervisor about her condition, and said she didn’t feel healthy working at the front counter. She also began treatment and made a formal request for the courthouse to accommodate her disability.

Meanwhile, she took a leave of absence, and was fired.

She sued under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Her employer argued that her social anxiety didn’t count because it wasn’t a real disability, like being in a wheelchair.

But a federal appeals court sided with Christina. It said she had presented enough evidence that her condition interfered with major aspects of her daily life that she should be allowed to go to trial and have a jury decide her case.