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Ask Law Educator, Esq. Your Own Question
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 116828
Experience:  20+ Years of Employment Law Experience
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Customer Question

For OCCUPATIONAL MEDICINE PRACTITIONER:Would "episodic migraines that while active have limited employee's ability to perform at full capacity and caused temporary disability" be considered a disability
under ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
or does it have to be PERMANENT disability?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Consider the fact that was specified as "the nature of the medical condition and medical impairment" by the employee's physitian, stating that they have been "led to [by the] experienced [by the employee] a series of severe stressors in the work place".The larger context available for this case suggests that these migraines are likely not the condition condition itself but the impairment caused when the condition is exacerbated (by the stress in the work place, in this consideration). As such, the condition may as well be PERMANENT, only the disability is TEMPORARY.I think this is important consideration.Thanks for your help.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Migraine headaches, just like epilepsy, is a condition that can indeed qualify as a disability impairing a major life function, since these headaches come on without warning and can be treated with medication, so they are not continuous or even daily. So, for migraine headaches, under the ADA and also under the FMLA, time off of time to go off to a dark room to get rid of the headache. For migraines a possible accommodation could also be working in an area that does not contain the stressors that trigger the headaches. This is no different than epilepsy, which is also controlled by treatment, but can be triggered by certain stressors and reasonable accommodations can be made for. So a migraine condition is a permanent condition that can be triggered at any time by certain stressors and reasonable accommodation can include avoidance of the stressors or at the very least ability to take off from work when they occur without penalty for doing so.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
What about the test on limiting major life activities?
Where and how does it apply with episodic debilitating migraines triggered by severe stress -- under ADA and under FMLA)?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
Some ailments the courts have deemed permanent disabilities even though they do not have permanently present symptoms and diabetes and migraine headaches are two of those conditions, so is epilepsy. Those medical conditions, which can be triggered even if the person is on medication are considered to impair major life functions.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
These conditions are probably considered by courts to impair major life functions NOT only and or even mainly because they can be triggered even if on medication, but because when they are triggered, they DO in fact IMPAIR major life functions (like sleep, thinking, speaking, concentration, hearing, sight, etc. - as defined in ADAAA); and even though this acute impairment/disability is temporary, it's psychological and occupational effects are cumulative, and this is why these conditions qualify for disability.I am not sure of course with how exactly courts formulated this and why, but there seem to be rips in causation in the way you have stated it.Do you agree with this train of thought?(It's important for me to understand this -- what's driving this "consideration you courts" we talking about).Thanks!
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
First of all, the possibility of a tear, all surgery will have a possibility of a tear and again, read the Toyota Motor v. Williams case and they explain not every little malady is going to be a permanent disability. The difference between a scar and diabetes, epilepsy or migraines would be that those conditions require medication and treatment to keep them under control and from causing symptoms from appearing. A scar "may" or may not tear, but it is guaranteed if epilepsy or diabetes or migraines go untreated they will occur.