What is Anemia?

Anemia refers to a deficiency of red blood cells and/or hemoglobin. This results in a reduced ability of blood to transfer oxygen to the tissues, which human cells and tissues require. The three main classes of anemia include excessive blood loss (such as hemorrhage), excessive blood cell destruction, or deficient red blood cell production. In menstruating women, dietary iron deficiency is a common cause of deficient red blood cell production. Anemia is the most common blood disorder. Symptoms of anemia include weakness, fatigue, poor concentration, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations.

Anemia diminishes the ability of affected people to perform physical tasks. The lack of iron in the sufferer's blood often results in brittle bones, cold intolerance, and an impaired immune system. Anemia can be treated with increased iron in one's diet, and in severe cases, blood transfusion might be necessary.

  • 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

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)
  • That the employer took some adverse action (such as not hiring, firing, or demoting the employee) on the basis of that disability

Under both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, anemia 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 anemia. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with anemia so as to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. For example, an individual with severe anemia might need to go to the doctor for blood transfusions. The law will protect an employee whose employer does not allow an employee the time to do so.

Anemia 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. There is an obvious need for accommodation of the individual's doctor appointments, some of which may constitute medical emergencies and may require absences during regular work hours. An employer has an obligation to accommodate the employee accordingly.

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