Migraine Headache

WHAT IS A MIGRAINE HEADACHE?

A migraine is a neurological disease, which most commonly results in intense and often disabling headaches. These headaches are usually characterized by severe pain on one or even both sides of the head. Furthermore, migraines are also debilitating because they are often accompanied by hypersensitivity to light and sound as well as nausea. While preventative drugs exist, they are not entirely reliable, and most migraine sufferers taking medication still report experiencing at least some of the pain of migraines.

Ten to fifteen percent of the population suffers from migraine headaches. These pains vary in severity, however, with pains ranging from annoyance to life threatening every day occurrences. Treatment can be quite expensive, but, without treatment, a migraine sufferer might not be able to predict or prevent a migraine attack. Given the debilitating nature of these headaches, an individual is often limited in his or her ability to work, learn, or carry out daily tasks while experiencing a migraine headache.

WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF MIGRAINE HEADACHES

  • 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 accommodate your occasional need to refrain from working when you are experiencing a severe migraine headache

HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE MIGRAINE HEADACHES

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 provide protection against discrimination on the basis of disability. Migraines can render an individual disabled, deserving of protection from discrimination, as long as the migraine limits the individual's ability to work. Accordingly, an employer may not take any adverse action against an employee because of the employee's migraine headaches. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with migraine headaches 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, if an employee suddenly experiences a severe migraine headache, which limits his or her ability to perform at work, the employer must accommodate the employee accordingly, unless doing so would place an undue burden on the employer.

Further Information