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Migraines and the ADA

When most people think about the conditions that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to, it is likely that the disabilities that come to mind are physical conditions. Of course the reality is that many different types of disabilities could be covered under the act. One of those disabilities could be migraine headaches.

Under the ADA a disability is considered to be a physical or mental impairment that limits in a substantial manner, at least one major life activity, such as working.

As anyone who has ever had a headache is likely well aware, they can be an annoyance that makes it difficult to stay on task. For those who deal with chronic migraines, they can be a hindrance to employment.

Under the ADA someone who suffers from migraine headaches in the workplace can request reasonable accommodations to try to prevent them from occurring. Since there some well known triggers for migraines such as perfume, an employee might, for example, seek a perfume free workplace in which no one is allowed to wear fragrance.

Individuals who find that they are in this situation should make sure that their employer knows about the medical condition. After that, they can seek a reasonable accommodation. That accommodation will vary depending on each person’s specific situation but may include:

  • A time accommodation.
  • Lighting accommodation.
  • Noise accommodation.
  • Fragrance accommodation.

When an accommodation which would not cause undue hardship to the employer is not granted, the employee could take action against his or her employer for disability discrimination. To learn more about what that process entails an employment lawyer is a good place to start.

Source: HealthCentral, “Working with Migraines: Rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Megan Oltman, May 4, 2009

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