WHAT IS HEART DISEASE?
Heart disease and strokes are common cardiovascular diseases. They are the leading cause of death in the United States, and forty percent of all deaths in America are related to a cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure and high blood cholesterol have a major impact on cardiovascular diseases. The primary way to prevent heart disease is to check cholesterol and blood pressure regularly.
Some symptoms for heart attacks and heart failure include pressure, discomfort, heaviness or pain in the chest, arm or below the breastbone, discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, throat or arm, indigestion, or choking feeling (similar to heartburn), vomiting, dizziness, sweating, nausea, extreme weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeats.
WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF HEART DISEASE
- 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
HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE A HEART DISEASE
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
Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act protect individuals against disability discrimination. Heart disease can render an individual disabled, deserving of protection from discrimination. Accordingly, an employer may not take any adverse action against an employee because of the employee's heart disease. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with heart disease 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. For example, an individual with heart disease might need to be careful to alleviate heart strain by refraining from stressful activity. An employer must provide an employee with such accommodation, unless doing so would place an undue burden on the employer or endanger the safety of others.
Heart disease is also a medical condition, within the definition of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, deserving of protection from discrimination. FEHA defines a medical condition as any health impairment related to, or associated with, a diagnosis of cancer, for which a person has been rehabilitated or cured, based on competent medical evidence; or any genetic characteristic.
An employer may not take an adverse action (such as firing, refusing to hire, or failing to accommodate an employee's needs) on the basis of an employee's medical condition. An employer has an obligation to accommodate the employee by allowed him or her to attend medical appointments, receive treatment, and provide reasonable on-site accommodations for the condition.
- For Legal Help see Finding an Attorney and David H. Greenberg, California Employment Law Attorney.