Multiple Sclerosis

WHAT IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the central nervous system. This disease can cause a variety of symptoms, including changes in sensation, vision problems, cognitive deficits, muscle weakness, depression, and coordination and speech difficulties. MS can cause impaired mobility and disability in more severe cases, sometimes resulting in an individual's need to use a wheelchair.

Multiple sclerosis may take several different forms, with new symptoms occurring either in discrete attacks or slowly accruing over time. Between attacks, symptoms may resolve completely, but permanent neurologic problems often persist. Although much is known about how MS causes damage, its exact cause remains unknown. MS currently does not have a cure, though several treatments are available which may slow the appearance of new symptoms. MS primarily affects adults, with an age of onset typically between 20 and 40 years, and is more common in women than in men.

WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

  • 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 need to use a wheelchair at work

HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

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 protects against discrimination on the basis of disability. Multiple sclerosis is a disability, deserving of protection from discrimination. Accordingly, an employer may not take any adverse action against an employee because of the employee's multiple sclerosis. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with multiple sclerosis 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 MS might be required to use a wheelchair while at work. Accordingly, the employer has an obligation to allow the individual to use a wheelchair while at work and to provide a wheelchair accessible workplace, unless doing so would place an undue burden on the employer or threaten the workplace safety of other employees or customers.

Further Information