Migraines and Workplace Discrimination

By Gregory Thyberg on November 30, 2019


A woman with a severe headacheDisabilities and medical conditions should always be taken seriously by your employer. A failure to recognize and make accommodations for your condition could be construed as a form of workplace discrimination. People in Sacramento, CA who’ve been subject to this kind of mistreatment on the job should speak with employment law attorney Gregory Thyberg about potential legal actions.

What many people do not realize is that workplaces should make accommodations for people with migraine headaches. Let’s consider these matters in the context of workplace discrimination below.

Facts About Migraine Headaches

First things first, a migraine isn’t just a bad headache. Migraines are debilitating in ways that a normal headache (even a severe headache) cannot match.

According to numbers compiled by the Migraine Research Foundation, almost 1 in 4 households in the United States includes someone who suffers from migraine headaches. Migraines are the third most prevalent illness around the world and the sixth most disabling illness in the world. It’s estimated that 90 percent of people who suffer from migraines are unable to work or function because of the severe pain they experience.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Migraines

Given the above facts about migraines, migraine headaches are legally covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the ADA, a person with a disability is defined as someone “who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”

A debilitating migraine headache makes work and other normal activities difficult if not outright impossible. That’s why workplaces should be accommodating if they know an employee suffers from migraines.

Potential Migraine Triggers Common at Workplaces

Possible triggers of migraine headaches you may find at the workplace include:

  • Bright lights
  • Flickering lights
  • Fluorescent lighting
  • Strong smells
  • Certain foods and food additives
  • Exposure to certain chemicals

Reasonable Accommodations for People with Migraines

Reasonable accommodations are a common part of employment law disputes we see at our Sacramento law firm. A reasonable accommodation means adjustments made to work stations or work environments that allow a person with a disability to complete their job duties.

In the case of migraines, this means an employee should inform their supervisors of their condition and make requests to help control possible migraine triggers in the office or work environment. Employees with migraines may have work stations where they can better control light sources to avoid migraine attacks. Fellow employees may be asked to stop wearing strong perfumes or colognes. For work lunches, an employee can be informed of certain food items that contain harmful ingredients.

In addition to controlling triggers for migraines, workplaces can also allow the employee to work remotely if they’re suffering or recovering from a migraine.

What If My Employer Won’t Accommodate My Needs?

If your employer is not making reasonable accommodations, it could be a case of discrimination. It’s important that you discuss these matters with HR and your supervisors. Having a letter or note from a medical professional can help you get these accommodations approved.

If simple adjustments will not be made to address your health issues, that’s when you should get in touch with our law firm. We will hold your workplace accountable for their failure to act.

Learn More About Workplace Discrimination

If you live in the Sacramento area and have faced issues at your workplace because of chronic migraines, be sure to contact a skilled workplace discrimination attorney. You can reach our team by phone at (916) 204-9173.

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