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SICKLE CELL AT WORK: DO YOU KNOW YOUR RIGHTS?

July 28, 2014 by Andrea

©Depositphotos.com/lunamarina

©Depositphotos.com/lunamarina

 

It can be frustrating to constantly explain why your hospital visits can crop up suddenly, why spending time in a room that's too hot can lead to a serious crisis, and why too much stress on the job can actually compromise your daily health, among other things. As a sickle cell warrior, your illness isn't always visible.

In a perfect world, all employers would understand and empathize with your condition, whether they could see a physical manifestation of it or not. However, you may find yourself in a situation at some point when you're working for someone who doesn't quite get the fact there are certain things you must avoid in the workplace to maintain your own health. Arm yourself with the knowledge of your rights, so that you can successfully advocate for yourself while climbing the metaphorical career ladder.

1) Employers cannot discriminate against you simply because you have sickle cell disease. You don't even have to divulge that information if you're not comfortable doing so. Should a crisis arise at work or should your disease be discovered in another way and result in unfair treatment, know that such treatment is illegal according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you feel that you've been fired, passed over for promotion, given less pay, etc. based on your sickle cell disease, you may first want to speak with your employer and try straightening things out that way. If that does not work, consult your union rep or a lawyer who specializes in discrimination.

2) Employers must provide reasonable accommodations. If you are qualified for the position you were hired for, your employer has to customize things, such as your work area, your work schedule, and/or your work load, as long as such accommodations don't provide "undue hardship" to the employer. Undue hardship simply means that if providing an accommodation would be too hard or cost too much money for a company, then they do not have to make those adjustments.

3) Even if you don't feel disabled, you are still protected under the ADA.
If your sickle cell disease has ever greatly disabled you in your life, then you are protected by this act. Even if it has never greatly disabled you, if your employer or potential employer believes that it could disable you in the future and discriminates against you based on that, you are protected.

 

***Information for this post was taken from the Americans with Disabilites Act

 

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