WHAT IS PSORIASIS?
Psoriasis is an immune-mediated skin disease which results in red scaly patches on the skin and joints. The skin on the joints accumulates and will usually have a silvery-white appearance. Plaques frequently occur on the skin of the elbows and knees, but the disorder might affect any area, including the scalp and genitals.
The disorder is a recurring condition which varies in severity from minor localized patches to patches that cover the entire body. Toenails and fingernails are frequently affected, and other symptoms can include inflammation of the joints, known as psoriatic arthritis.
In order to treat psoriasis, dermatologists often use a trial and error approach to determine the best remedy for the disease. Treatments often include ointments, phototherapy, and/or injections of antibiotics. Ointments are usually moisturizing creams that are anti-inflammatory, clearing skin of plaques. Phototherapy is comprised of ultraviolet wave treatment. Exposure to this light has been shown to improve psoriasis. If topical treatment and phototherapy doesn't work, doctors are then likely to prescribe internal medication, taken either by pill or injection.
WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF PSORIASIS
- 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 off of work to receive phototherapy, topical treatment, or internal medication
HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE PSORIASIS
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 provide protection against discrimination on the basis of disability. Psoriasis 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 psoriasis. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with psoriasis 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 to leave work, on occasion, so as to receive phototherapy or other treatment for his or her psoriasis, then an employer has an obligation to accommodate the employee accordingly, unless doing so would unduly burden the employer.
Psoriasis 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.