WHAT IS A CATARACT?
A Cataract is an opacity that develops in eye. Cataracts typically progress slowly to cause vision loss and are potentially blinding if left untreated. Moreover, over time, the cataract cortex liquefies to form a milky white fluid, which can cause severe inflammation if the lens capsule ruptures and leaks.
Cataracts develop for many reasons, including ultraviolet exposure, old age, and eye injury. While decreasing exposure to ultraviolet rays can diminish the likelihood of cataracts, the most effective way to treat cataracts is to surgically remove the cloudy lens.
WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF CATARACT
- Your employer does not allow you to miss work for medical appointments
- Your employer does not accommodate your need to take a reasonable amount of time off of work
- Your employer will not provide reasonable on-site accommodations for your disability
- Your employer does not provide you with interactive computer software or Braille materials for the visually impaired
HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE A CATARACT
To state a cause of action for disability discrimination, an employee must be disabled, regarded as disabled, or have a record of being disabled. The employee must then show that:
- his or her disability results in physical limitations
- that he or she can still perform the essential functions of the job (with or without reasonable accommodations)
- and that the employer took some adverse action (such as not hiring, firing, or demoting the employee) on the basis of that disability
According to both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, an employer may not take any adverse action against an employee because of the employee's disability. An adverse employment action would include discriminatory hiring, firing, or lack of accommodation. A cataract can be such a disability, deserving of protection from discrimination, as long as the cataract impairs the individual's ability to work. Accordingly, an employer may not take any adverse action against an employee because of the employee's cataract. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with cataracts so as to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. The law will protect an employee whose employer does not provide these necessary accommodations. While some jobs require (even by law) that employees have good eyesight, many jobs can be accomplished by individuals with vision problems. Employers have a responsibility to provide accommodations to individuals with vision impairments, such as providing Braille reading materials or interactive computer software, so long as these accommodations do not place too much of a burden on the employer and workplace safety is not threatened.
- For Legal Help see Finding an Attorney and David H. Greenberg, California Employment Law Attorney.