Igartua v. City of Newton, et al.

A worker with physical symptoms from exposure to secondhand smoke contended that her reaction — including rashes, swelling and coughing — constituted a “handicap” under Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination statute.  The city contended that Ms. Igartua’s alleged acute sensitivity to smoke is not a “handicap” as defined in the state anti-discrimination statute and that, even if it were, the city had provided reasonable accommodation for any such handicap.  A Superior Court judge (Gants, J.) concluded that “there is no evidence that Ms. Iguarta’s allergic sensitivity to smoke substantially limits her employment in general” and that “there is no evidence that she ever described any difficulty with breathing to any physician or that any physician ever observed such difficulty.” Concluding that “there is no reasonable expectation that she can prove that her allergic sensitivity to smoke ‘substantially limits’ her breathing,” the judge allowed summary judgment for the city.  See Boynton, P., “Secondary-Smoke Handicap Bias Case Is Denied,” Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, February 21, 2000, 1.

Middlesex (Mass.) Superior Court Docket No. 98-4910-F, 2000 Mass. Super. LEXIS 19 (2000).