Sleep Apnea

WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. These episodes result in skipping of breaths, which occurs repeatedly throughout sleep. Sleep apnea is recognized as a problem by others witnessing the individual during episodes or is suspected because of its effects on the body.

Treatment often includes lifestyle changes, such as ceasing alcohol consumption or medications that relax the central nervous system. Certain pillows can also be helpful to get the individual's sleep back on track. Furthermore, surgery, at times, can be promising. Surgical procedures can tighten the individual's airway so as to alleviate the poor sleeping patterns.

WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF SLEEP APNESA

  • 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 SLEEP APNEA

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 an individual against discrimination on the basis of disability. Sleep Apnea can render an individual disabled, deserving of protection from discrimination, as long as the individual is limited in his or her ability to work. Accordingly, an employer may not take any adverse action against an employee because of the employee's sleep apnea. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with sleep apnea 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 the individual needs to undergo treatment for this disorder, the employer has an obligation to allow him or her to leave work to do so, unless doing so would unduly burden the employer.

Further Information