WHAT IS CHRON'S DISEASE?
Crohn's disease is a chronic, episodic, inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. It is an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, and, as a result, the symptoms greatly vary. The main gastrointestinal symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss. Crohn's disease can also cause complications outside of the gastrointestinal tract such as skin rashes, arthritis, and eye inflammation.
The cause of Crohn's disease is widely believed to be an autoimmune disease. The condition occurs when the immune system contributes to damage of the gastrointestinal tract by causing inflammation. There is no known medical cure, but many medical treatments can keep the disease in remission, such as steroid and biological medications. Typically, an individual will take anti-inflammatory medication to keep the inflammation to a minimum. Those with severe Chron's disease, however, might be forced to undergo significant surgery.
WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF CHRON'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
HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE CHRON'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
Under both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Fair Housing and Employment Act, Chron'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 disease. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with Chron'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.
Chron's Disease 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. Chron's Disease is such a genetic disorder, and 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.
Furthermore, an individual, who is rehabilitated from Chron's disease but not cured, must forever undergo regular check-ups and must also promptly seek medical attention at the onset of physical symptoms which may be signs of a recurrence of a Chron's disease eposide; there is an obvious need for accommodation of the individual's doctor appointments, some of which may constitute medical emergencies and may of necessity require absences during regular work hours. An employer has an obligation to accommodate the employee accordingly.
- For Legal Help see Finding an Attorney and David H. Greenberg, California Employment Law Attorney.