WHAT IS MENINGITIS?
Meningitis is usually caused by microscopic organisms that spread into the cerebrospinal fluid and the blood. Non-infectious causes can include certain drugs and cancer. The most common cause of meningitis is viral, but bacterial meningitis can also be very serious and life-threatening. Meningitis can affect anyone in any age group, from the newborn to the elderly, and symptoms often include fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and delirium.
If left untreated, meningitis has a very high mortality rate. All cases, even if they seem mild, require emergency medical treatment. Antibiotics must begin immediately.
WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF MENINGITIS
- 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 receive emergency medical treatment, as is necessary with meningitis
HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE MENINGITIS
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 individuals against disability discrimination. Meningitis 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 meningitis. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with meningitis 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 leave work to receive emergency medical attention, the employer must accommodate the employee accordingly, unless doing so would place an undue burden on the employer.
Meningitis 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.
- For Legal Help see Finding an Attorney and David H. Greenberg, California Employment Law Attorney.