A Wisconsin primary school teacher had bouts of depression that led to a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD — an abnormal reaction caused by the lack of sunshine in the winter months. She asked to be assigned to a classroom with exterior windows, but her request was denied.
She eventually resigned and sued the district for failure to accommodate her under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
District officials argued the teacher was not an otherwise-qualified individual with a disability, contending she wouldn’t have been able to return to work even in a classroom with windows. Officials also said that they’d been insufficiently informed about her condition: The doctors’ letters had reached Eckstrom’s school’s office, but the school superintendent said he’d never seen them until after Eckstrom sued.
However, Eckstrom’s primary care physician and psychologist backed up the request with letters to the school district – saying that school officials did nothing, except for a few attempts by the principal to make her existing, windowless classroom “more hospitable.”
Appellate judges asserted that Eckstrom showed she was a qualified person with a disability, the school district knew about the disability, and it failed to offer accommodation.