Tourette Syndrome

WHAT IS TOURETTE SYNDROME?

Tourette Syndrome is an inherited brain disorder that usually develops in early childhood. The disease is characterized by physical and vocal tics. Tics are medically defined as sudden, stereotyped, involuntary, and repetitive movements or utterances, generally involving discrete muscle groups. Public perception of the disease, however, is most commonly characterized by the exclamation of obscene and socially inappropriate words.

In reality, however, this symptom is present in only a very small percentage of individual's with Tourette Syndrome. More typically, sufferers experience tics of eye blinking, coughing, throat clearing, and facial movements. Generally, these tics dissipate throughout adolescence, and extreme Tourette Syndrome is rare in adults. While not every tic can be treated with medication, most tics can be controlled with a combination of therapy and medication.

TOURETTE SYNDROME

  • 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 to miss work to undergo psychotherapy or behavioral therapy sessions

HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE TOURETTE SYNDROME

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 and Housing Act provide protection against disability discrimination for individuals with mental disabilities. Tourette Syndrome is such a disability, deserving of protection from discrimination. Accordingly, an employer may not take any adverse action against an employee because of the employee's Tourette Syndrome. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with Tourette Syndrome 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 Tourette Syndrome may need to miss work in order to attend psychotherapy sessions. An employer has an obligation to accommodate the employee, unless doing so would unduly burden the employer.

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