Posted 18 August 2011 - 09:26 AM
I realize, which some readers may not, that this is a very old thread from *eleven* years ago that has recently been bumped up, but I need to correct the statement in the quote below my post that IBS is not covered by the ADA. IBS and almost any other disabling condition certainly is covered if you disclose correctly under the law. The ADA does not have a list of specific diagnoses that are covered and/or ones that are not covered. The federal legislators in both political parties who wrote this law, in cooperation with leaders in the disability community, recognized that "disability" can cover many things and even people with the same diagnostic label can have different experiences, needs and preferences for how to accommodate it. The ADA was intentionally crafted to be flexible enough to encourage employers and others to look at every situation and person as individuals, not a one size fits all stereotype. Very few things are specifically excluded, mostly at the insistence of one then-Senator now deceased-- things like kleptomania, sexual deviance, etc. To qualify as a disability, a condition has to fall into one or more of the following definitions: 1) It substantially impairs one or more "major life activities" or 2) There is a record of such an impairment. This definition is intended to cover situations where a person might have recovered from a disabling medical condition(for example, cancer) and is discriminated against because of that history. or 3) A condition is regarded as an impairment when it is not. This definition was intended to cover situations with the person him/herself (for example, disfiguring burns, where somebody might be discriminated against because he/she "looks" disabled.) or by association. At the time the law was written, at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, family members without HIV were experiencing discrimination because of their loved ones. Parents of children with disabilities might also be discriminated against for employment because employers feared, rightly or wrongly, that their children would drive up health insurance rates, etc. Anyway, the point is, the law was crafted very broadly, and many of the politicians who supported it did so because they or close family members had a disability of some sort, so it was real, not an abstraction.The ADA was signed into law in July 1990. Within several years, several cases reached the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Supreme Court which ruled, on a very narrow, technical basis, in ways that were much stricter than what Congress intended (several politicians in question publicly said so) and against people who had various clear disabilities. At that time, the disability community began advocating for amendments to restore the original intent. The ADA Amendments Act, signed in September 2008, more clearly words the law to include disabilities that are episodic and may come and go. IBS fits that. The ADA Amendments Act also includes more examples of what constitutes a "major life activity" and what bodily parts/systems might be impaired. Digestion is specified as a major life activity, and the bowel is mentioned. So yes, IBS *is* covered under the ADA if you are impaired by it.
FYI, unfortunately, IBS is NOT one of the "maladies" covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act and so far we have no recourse for any disability coverage. This is one of the major hurdles we need to overcome . . . getting IBS recognized as a serious hindrance to daily living.While some of us have been fortunate enough to have understanding bosses, there are still many who have not been as lucky. I think a majority of bosses DON'T understand. It's a shame that we have to consider telling our boss about this condition in order to avoid future problems . . . health issues are really nobody's business. However, if it is enough to have an impact on your job, it's probably a good idea to be straight with the boss up front, armed with written information as many of you have suggested. However, I would leave it at that. Nobody is entitled to know the DETAILS of your specific situation. Furthermore, you do not HAVE to explain ANY of your situation to your employer if you really feel uncomfortable doing so. You cannot be discriminated against and can fight it if you really think the job is worth keeping.Bev