Recently, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in El Paso denied an employer's motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether a plaintiff was disabled under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. (The TCHRA was amended effective Sept. 1, 2009, to reflect amendments Congress made to the ADA. The court ruled on several other interesting TCHRA disability issues, but I want to stick with just this one for now.) The court's opinion in Maria Molina v. DSI Renal Inc. comes down to this: The plaintiff is covered if she is 1. substantially limited in 2. a major life function. Here, she could not lift more than 20 pounds or engage in extreme bending at the waist because of a back condition. Stressing that the amendments directed courts to take an expansive view of what qualifies as a covered disability, the court essentially asked whether a major life activity was involved. Its answer was "yes" because the amendments state that "lifting" and "bending" are major life activities. What about substantial limitation? The court said that pain experienced when performing a major life activity satisfies this prong of the test. The opinion has two interesting corollary holdings. First, the fact that the plaintiff testified she "learned to tolerate the pain" was irrelevant because the EEOC regulations (which courts use to interpret the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and the TCHRA) state that an ability to function despite the physical impairment does not foreclose coverage for an employee. Second, the fact that a mitigating measure (here, taking pain relief medication) lessened the pain did not foreclose, per the amendments, a finding of coverage. Here is what is important: The court acknowledged that before the amendments, there likely would be no coverage. Now, there is. Take a read.