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Multiple Sclerosis Week, March 7 – 13

Employees suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and other chronic autoimmune or pain conditions, like Lupus and Fibromyalgia, face unique challenges at work, including the need for a reasonable accommodation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., (“ADA”) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment.

There are three categories of “reasonable accommodations” under the Americans with Disabilities Act:

(i) modifications or adjustments to a job application process that enable a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position such qualified applicant desires; or
(ii) modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position; or
(iii) modifications or adjustments that enable a covered entity’s employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(o)(1)(i-iii) .

The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Under the ADA, a person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as by his or her employer as having an impairment. Therefore, whether an individual employee will be entitled to a reasonable accommodation depends on the severity of the employee’s condition and the job he or she performs, as well as, other factors. Chances are if you’ve been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, or Fibromyalgia you are a qualified individual with a disability.

Some reasonable accommodations for individuals with autoimmune or chronic pain conditions could include:

  1. Allowing an employee to work from home or to work flexible hours
  2. Allowing an employee to take frequent or longer breaks.
  3. Providing a parking space close to the employer’s entrance or moving an employee’s work station to be closer to office equipment, break rooms, or restroom facilities.
  4. Providing the employee with voice recognition software to assist with word processing tasks and hands-free communicating options.
  5. Providing the employee with an ergonomic workstation, including ergonomic chair, keyboard, and arm and foot rests.
  6. Providing the employee with a stool or chair to use while performing traditional standing tasks.
    Allowing time off for doctors’ appointments.

This list is not exhaustive. Under the ADA, once you’ve requested a reasonable accommodation, your employer is required to engage in the interactive process and work with you to develop an accommodation plan that works. If you are considering requesting a reasonable accommodation and are concerned that your employer will not meet its obligations under the law, or if you have requested an accommodation and are being or have been retaliated against contact us at 317-388-5424 for a free consultation.