Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Arthritis as an ADA-Defined Impairment

A growing number of California workers are reportedly afflicted with arthritis and it is fast becoming a medical concern for many employers as an increasing number of employees are filing disability discrimination claims under this impairment.

The article, “Arthritis as a Medical Disability in the California Workplace”, posted on October 7, 2008, noted this growing affliction among California workers and warned employers of making discriminatory acts against workers who have arthritis.

Under the law, an employer is prohibited from discriminating against any worker based on his disability or medical condition. However, to be able to file discrimination claims against an employer, a worker must first determine whether his medical condition qualifies as a disability as defined by law which is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA defines disability in three ways:

1. a physical or mental impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities

2. a worker has a record of such an impairment

3. a worker is regarded as having such an impairment

On the other hand, a physical impairment is defined by ADA as "any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine."

But not all the diseases or conditions covered by this definition are actually listed under the ADA or the regulations that implement it, which include a disability such as arthritis.

Arthritis, as a medical condition, is a rheumatic disease characterized by inflammation of the joints. It can be caused by several factors such as injury, metabolic abnormalities, hereditary factors and infections.

However, having a medical condition like arthritis is not a reason for an employer to discriminate against a worker or employee.

If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination due to your disability or impairment, you have to consult with a lawyer immediately.