The new guidance also is useful because it goes beyond a general discussion of each type of condition to discuss disclosure of medical information related to such conditions and examples of possible accommodations that employers could discuss with employees who suffer from such conditions. Employees who suffer from these conditions should review this guidance to assist them in discussions regarding accommodations and to inform them of the proper handling of sensitive medical information. If an employer is not complying with the guidance, an employment discrimination attorney should be contacted to pursue the matter.
The guidance related to cancer explains that an employee or applicant who has been diagnosed with cancer or who have cancer that is currently in remission should easily be found to have a disability under the first part of the ADA’s definition of disability because they are “substantially limited in the major life activity of normal cell growth.” Individuals who have a history of cancer should be covered under the second part of the definition because there is a record of an impairment that substantially limited a major life activity in the past. Individuals with cancer may also be covered under the “regarded as” prong of the definition of disability if an employer takes an action based on believing the employee has cancer.
The guidance on cancer lists types of accommodations that employees with cancer may need; such as, time off for doctor’s appointments or to recuperate, breaks to rest or take medication, modified work schedules, working from home, and even reassignment to vacant positions if the employee is no longer able to perform his or her current position.
The guidance regarding intellectual disabilities is also very useful. This guidance gives examples of accommodations that individuals with intellectual disabilities may need both for the application process as well as in order to perform the essential functions of the job.
All employers should review this new guidance from the EEOC regarding specific disabilities and ensure that individuals at the company who are performing hiring functions are aware of how to handle applicants as well as employees with these conditions.
By Mary Jo Lowrey