Category: Discrimination

Imagine that you are nauseous, dizzy, and have a headache so intense that you are unable to stand any noise or light. Your doctor is unable to prevent future episodes. Now imagine that these attacks happen to you five times a month, each for a day and a half.

Would you be able to go to work and do your job successfully?

For the approximately 12% of the population who suffer from migraines, it can be difficult to work because of their condition. Not all employers understand that migraines are a serious medical condition. Some individuals have such severe cases that they qualify as a disability. Unfortunately, many individuals with migraines face workplace discrimination including being fired.

If you suffer from migraines, both state and federal laws protect you from being fired for your condition. And, if you are discriminated against because of a medical condition like migraines, you can file a lawsuit in civil court to receive compensation.

The Facts About Migraines

Everyone gets headaches. So what makes a migraine more than just a headache?

Migraine sufferers have a serious medical condition. Migraine is a neurological disease characterized by the following symptoms:

  • A severe recurring throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling or numbness in the extremities
  • Lightheadedness, and
  • Extreme sensitivity to light or sound.

Migraines can last for up to 72 hours. It’s common to experience depression, anxiety, and even sleep disturbances.

Unlike an occasional headache, migraines are frequent and can cause serious disruptions to normal life. To make matters worse, migraines can be triggered by a number of factors that employees encounter on a daily basis like stress, loud noises, certain smells, and sudden weather changes. This means that many sufferers have little to no control over environmental conditions that can trigger an episode.

Federal And State Discrimination Protection For Migraine Sufferers

There are state and federal laws that protect migraine sufferers from workplace discrimination. These laws give individuals rights and benefits, including time off work and the right to reasonable accommodations for their medical condition. The laws also include penalties for employers who violate them. You may be able to file a claim under federal or state law, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Both the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act protect employees who suffer from any condition that affects one or more major life activities. Employment qualifies as a major life activity under these laws. Additionally, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that your employer make reasonable accommodations for your disability. Depending on the individual’s needs, examples of reasonable accommodations may include noise-canceling headphones, a workspace with reduced lighting, or the ability to telecommute.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, commonly known as “FMLA,” a worker who has a serious medical condition that prevents them from being able to perform the essential functions of their job are entitled to up to twelve workweeks of unpaid leave every year and continuation of group health insurance coverage during that time.

Migraine sufferers are also protected by state laws. Employers can be held liable for discrimination under both the California Family Rights Act and the California Workers’ Compensation laws. 

What Can I Do If I Was Fired For Having Migraines?

Employers who discriminate against employees with medical conditions like migraines can face severe consequences.

If you were fired from your job because of migraines, you might have a claim for wrongful termination and/or disability discrimination. Depending upon whether the claim is under state or federal law, a successful claimant can be entitled to the following compensation:

  • Back pay and interest
  • Front pay
  • Lost benefits
  • Differences in pay between your current pay and the pay you would have received 
  • Related out-of-pocket costs
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
  • Attorney fees

Individuals with migraines don’t have to live in fear that their disability will cost them their job. You can fight back against disability discrimination. Filing a claim will hold your employer responsible for violating the law and your rights.