Migraines can make it very hard for a person to maintain a reasonable work schedule. After all, how can you possibly keep up regular attendance at your job when you have five days, ten days, or more of disabling headaches a month? There are many ways that employees and employers can work together to attempt to deal with the problems that migraines pose for both parties.
We have already talked about how the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides protection for people who suffer from migraines.
But now a woman is suing her former employer, the University of Oregon (UO), because, she claims, it didn’t give her the protections that the system is supposed to afford to people with disabilities.
The employee in question, Laura A. Gerards claims that UO wrongly fired her after she had requested a “reasonable accommodation” to help her fulfill her duties working in the campus craft center. Gerards had worked for UO for more than 15 years before she was fired, occupying a number of jobs, including the position from which she was fired, as a n office coordinator in the craft center.
She claims that she was told she could not miss any more work because of her migraines before she was fired, which, she alleges, is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Her lawsuit names UO and several people who were supposed to help her understand her rights. She is asking for $500,000 in lost wages and $400,000 in emotional distress.
Do Migraines Count as a Disability?
The question at issue in this lawsuit is whether migraines count as a disability that requires accommodation under the ADA. This is a hard question to answer, and even the government’s Job Accommodation Network (JAN) sidesteps the issue. Instead, it says, “A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment (EEOC Regulations . . . , 2011),” then refers us to a more detailed consideration of the question. Overall, JAN encourages employees to provide accommodations, noting that the accommodations are not typically costly (many are free and if they do cost, it’s typically less than a $500 one-time investment).
Depending on the accommodations requested, then, it’s likely that Gerards has a good shot in her UO lawsuit. And it’s important to remember that if you suffer from migraines it is probably worthwhile to request accommodations if they will make your life easier.
Of course, having fewer and less severe migraines will also make your life easier. If you would like to learn whether TMJ treatment can help your migraines, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry today.