If you get migraines at work, you might qualify for disability benefits and legal protection if you ever get fired you from your job. As migraine headache falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you should receive compensation for time missed from work. Symptoms of migraines include neck pain, intense, throbbing headaches, vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light, smells, and noises, and temporary partial blindness. Side effects from drug treatments may include memory loss, fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you have the right to take up to twelve weeks off from work each year without pay, and without fear of losing your job. Any group health insurance you have through work remains active, according to FMLA conditions. This is good news for people who get frequent migraine headaches, because it allows you to stay home and experiment with new abortive migraine medications and pain relievers without having to call in sick if headache symptoms– nausea, cramps, sharp pain- become overbearing.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act covers migraines, but that alone does not guarantee that your job isn’t at stake. If you are a chronic migraine sufferer, and if you require days to recover from a migraine attack or to try unfamiliar headache remedies, then your employer will have to find somebody to replace you for every day you call in sick, either temporarily…or permanently. Regardless of the fact that your migraines are ADA-approved, and even if you disclosed your migraine history with your employers beforehand, the risk of possibly losing your job to migraine headaches constantly lingers overhead.
“It is difficult when you’re dealing with employees who do not visibly appear to have any impairment whatsoever, but are dealing with issues of stress or fatigue.” -Businessweek
ADA redefines “disability”
In May of 2011, the Americans with Disabilities Act expanded on their definition of “disability,” responding to continuing discrimination of disabled persons in the workplace and the courtrooms. Where the burden of proof previously rested on the employee to prove that her migraines became a disability, it now rests on the shoulders of the employers to show that migraines headaches don’t in fact diminish one’s ability to work.
In its early years, the ADA defined disability as any physical or mental condition that significantly impairs one’s ability to lead a normal life. So what’s the catch? The employee had to prove in court that he was not able to do his job because of his disability. More often than not, the judge would throw out the case. There was simply not enough evidence to support the litigant’s claim.
Today, the ADA specifies certain illnesses that usually qualify as a disability, making it harder for employers or judges to ignore an employee’s request for disability benefits. They are:
- Cerebral palsy
- Major depression
How do the new ADA amendments help migraine sufferers?
Before, if you filed for disability benefits, you had to convince the judge that you were unable to perform your job duties. For people with “invisible diseases,” such as migraines, that burden of evidence can be next to impossible. Now, it’s the employers’ responsibility to made special accommodations in the workplace for people with disabilities- make it easier for them to do their job. For migraine patients, it could mean providing a scent-free environment, granting special permission to wear “migraine sunglasses,” or enabling them time to recuperate from crippling migraine attacks.
Read more about migraine law:
- Social Security Disability for Migraine- 5 Tips for Filing
- Cindy McCain Gives Voice to Migraine Syndrome
- Migraine Sufferer to World: It’s not just a Headache, People!
- U.S. Department of Labor – Find It By Topic – Leave Benefits – FMLA
- Employment Law: FMLA recertification, migraine headaches, intermittent fmla
- New ADA Rules Broaden Definition of ‘Disability’
- Employers Gird for Disabilities Act Changes- BusinessWeek
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