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There is a perception that since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act in 2008 and the issuance of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines in 2011, virtually any physical or mental condition will rise to the level of an actionable disability. The recent case of Mengel v. Reading Eagle, No. 11-6151, (E.D. Pa. Mar. 29, 2013), belies this perception. The case also is notable for its finding that the employee’s complaint about a single potentially racist remark was not an objectively reasonable complaint of discrimination.

Totally deaf in one ear

Christine Mengel was a page designer for the Reading Eagle, the principal newspaper of Berks County, Pa., owned by Reading Eagle Co. Mengel had satisfactory evaluations from 2001 to 2008. In 2007, Mengel had surgery for a brain tumor and, as a result, became totally deaf in one ear and began to experience balance problems. Her 2008 evaluation was completed shortly after she began to experience these problems and, as noted, it was satisfactory.

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