WHAT IS A STROKE?
A stroke is an acute neurological injury, due to an interruption in the blood supply to a part of the brain. A stroke involves the loss of neuronal function due to disturbance in cerebral perfusion. This disturbance is commonly arterial, but can be venous. Brain cells then die or are seriously damaged, impairing local brain function. Stroke can cause permanent neurologic damage or even death if not promptly diagnosed and treated. Risk factors include advanced age, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cigarette smoking.
It is important to identify and treat a stroke as early as possible, because those individuals who are treated earlier are more likely to recover than those who are not. Individuals who have suffered a stroke need to undergo stroke rehabilitation as soon as possible. Treatment often includes occupational, speech, and physical therapy.
WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF A STROKE
- 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 allow you time to undergo stroke rehabilitation
HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE HAD A STROKE
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 Fair Employment Housing Act provide protection against discrimination on the basis of disability. A stroke 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 stroke. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee who has had a stroke 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 individual needs time to recover after having a stroke before he or she begins working again, an employer has an obligation to accommodate the employee accordingly, unless doing so would unduly burden the employer.
A stroke 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.