Some Successful Lawsuits:
In general, a person seeking disability benefits must prove that he or she is unable to perform useful and efficient service because of disease or injury in the job last occupied.
Ms. Parodi, a government employee, could not work at her assigned site because of her hypersensitivity to secondhand smoke. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that she was “environmentally disabled” and ordered her employer to provide her either with a smokefree work environment or pay her disability benefits. She received an out-of-court settlement that provided for full disability retirement pay of $500 per month and a $50,000 lump-sum payment.70
Ms. Weir, a secretary with the Federal Aviation Administration, suffered severe asthma attacks when she was exposed to secondhand smoke. Her physicians told her she needed to work in a smokefree environment. The FAA, however, claimed that it could not provide such an environment. She applied for disability retirement. The Office of Personnel Management denied her application, but its ruling was overturned and she was granted disability benefits.71
70 Sweda, E. Summary of Legal Cases Regarding Smoking in the Workplace and Other Places. Boston, MA: Northeastern University School of Law Tobacco Control Resource Center, May 2000.