WHAT IS PARKINSON'S DISEASE?
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, often impairing the sufferer's motor skills and speech. This disease is characterized by muscle rigidity, tremor, and a slowing of physical movement. In extreme cases, the disease can result in a complete loss of physical movement.
Cardinal symptoms of Parkinson's disease include tremors, rigidity, gait and posture problems, fatigue, speech and swallowing difficulties, slow reaction time, and short term memory loss. Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, but treatment is available that can help alleviate symptoms. Medication, surgery, speech therapy, and exercise therapy can all play a positive role in the rehabilitation of an individual saddled with Parkinson's disease.
WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF PARKINSON'S 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
- Your employer will not accommodate your need to attend counseling, speech therapy or exercise therapy
HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE PARKINSON'S 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 provide protection against discrimination based on disability. Parkinson's 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 Parkinson's disease. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with Parkinson's 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 Parkinson's disease may need to attend frequent exercise or speech therapy sessions. An employer has an obligation to accommodate the employee accordingly, unless doing so would place an undue burden on the employer.
Parkinson's disease is also a medical condition, within the definition of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, deserving of protection from discrimination. 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.