Is Autoimmune Disease a disability? This is the million dollar question. The short answer is yes, but it comes with a more complicated explanation. This article is a must-read for anyone with an autoimmune condition, especially if you are working at a full time job.
This article provides accurate information based on current research and I am sharing that advice with you. This information may change without the author’s knowledge. It is not intended to provide health or legal guidelines or advice. I am not an attorney, doctor, or medical advisor. Please consult with your doctor and/or attorney before making any health or work-related changes. You are responsible for your actions or lack thereof. Pink Fortitude, LLC nor its owner are responsible or liable for your success or failure. Full disclosure/disclaimer HERE.
The short answer is that if your autoimmune disease causes certain conditions under the Americans with Disability Act, then yes, you are protected under the law.
The long answer is that it’s a lot more complicated. First of all, I can’t tell you how many individuals I’ve spoken with who have AI, who do not view having an autoimmune disease as a disability. Some of them have been able to manage their conditions and live productive lives without any issues. Some of them are too proud to consider themselves disabled. And that is ok.
I addressed this topic in my newly released #1 Amazon.com bestseller Thriving in the Workplace with Autoimmune Disease: Know Your Rights, Resolve Conflict, and Reduce Stress. Available on Kindle and paperback.
It’s a double edged sword. I think the word “disability” sometimes has negative connotations in our society of someone who is not able to perform or function. One of the challenges of having AI is the common occurrence of people saying, “But you don’t look sick.” If you are able to hold down a full time job, but still need some accommodations, your manager or company may not understand the connection. Or you may not view yourself as having a disability, especially compared to someone else with a more visible disability. It’s a change in mindset and education.
The ADA as Amended
Back to the law. The ADA was amended in 2008, and went into effect January 1, 2009. If AI was ever blurry under the law before, these amendments added a new category of major life activities called “major bodily functions,” which specifically includes the endocrine and immune systems.
According to this Amendment, under Section 4, Disability Defined and Rules of Construction, (2) Major Life Activities, (B) Major Bodily Functions, it states, “For purposes of paragraph (1), a major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.”
It doesn’t matter how you feel about being considered disabled. It certainly “doesn’t matter” if your employer wants to acknowledge your disability. The language of the law is crystal clear.
If you meet the required conditions under the law, then you are legally protected under the ADA.
“If you have a disability and are qualified to do a job, the ADA protects you from job discrimination on the basis of your disability.” (www.ada.gov)
Are You Ready to Thrive in the Workplace?
For more information on this topic, pick up a copy of my newly released #1 Amazon.com bestseller Thriving in the Workplace with Autoimmune Disease: Know Your Rights, Resolve Conflict, and Reduce Stress. Available on Kindle and paperback.
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