Americans With Disabilities Act
The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based upon physical and mental impairments and also provides reasonable accommodations that can include modified work schedules and leaves of absence.
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, disability is defined as substantially limited in one or more major life activities. Major life activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentration, thinking, communicating, and working. Additionally, and significant to individuals with diabetes, major life activities now specifically include the operation of major bodily functions such as the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and reproductive functions.
Complaints under the Americans with Disabilities Act must be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 300 days and usually 180 days under similar state laws. Employers who received federal financial assistance are subject to the Rehabilitation Act which the time limits vary from state to state.
Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is an integral tool for employed individuals providing rights and remedies for both individuals and their families. The FMLA is a broad, encompassing statute, with its complexities masked by “employee” and “employer”, seemingly self-explanatory words.
If an individual meets the requirements of an “employee” and worked for an “employer”, the FMLA provides protection of up to 12 weeks (within 12 months) of intermittent or continuous unpaid leave of absence for the employee's own medical condition or the medical condition of an immediate family member of the employee. Upon return from leave, the “employee” is guaranteed placement in his or her old job, or an equivalent job. This leave of absence is meant for inpatient care, doctor appointments, or medical episodes required by or resultant from a “serious health condition.” A “serious health condition” is established when the employee's health care provider completes the certification form provided by the United States Department of Labor.
An individual can be certified as having a “serious health condition” within, among others, Category 4 of the healthcare certification form. Category 4, Chronic Conditions Requiring Treatment, includes chronic conditions which:
- Require[s] periodic visits for treatment by a health care provider, or by a nurse or physician's assistant under direct supervision of a health care provider;
- Continue[s] over an extended period of time (including recurring episodes of a single underlying condition); and
- May cause episodic rather than a continuing period of incapacity (e.g., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.).
Complaints under the Family and Medical Leave Act must be filed within two years directly in court.