Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
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Changes in the Americans with Disabilities Act May affect People with MCSChanges in the Americans with Disabilities Act May affect People with MCS
by Michael J. Walkup, Esq
Effective May 24, 2011, new changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act, called the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA or Amended Act), will go into effect after implementation of federal regulations.
The previous Act had been misinterpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court shortly after it’s enactment in the early 90′s to place the focus on first establishing if the individual worker was “disabled enough” to qualify under the Act, instead of the Congressional intent of focusing on the discrimination and the reasonableness of accommodations that would be required to allow the worker to function in the job.
People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity were universally unable to meet the definition of disability due to lack of official recognition of MCS by the mainstream medical community, and their cases were dismissed.
Under the Amended Act, this will no longer be so much of an obstacle. The focus has now shifted to determining if discrimination has occurred and if it there is a reasonable method of accommodating the employee without undue burden to the employer, rather than analyzing the claimed disability of the employee. This should make things a bit easier for people who are still trying to hold onto their jobs who have MCS.
Although many MCS sufferers will still require such extensive accommodations that it may not be realistically possible for the employer to meet their needs, there are others for whom some simple things, such as not placing their workstation near other employees who wear fragrances, allowing them to work next to a window that can be opened, not placing them next to the photocopier, or allowing them to have a portable air filter machine in their workstation, may be possible. It may also be feasible to do some jobs, or at least portions of some jobs, from home.
Should you require an accommodation, you should request it in writing and cite the Amended Act as the basis for your request. Then try to get a meeting with the employer to see if you can jointly craft a solution. You may wish to consult with an attorney to assist you in trying to work things out with your employer.
Michael Walkup is an experienced disability practitioner with more than 25 years experience in the disability law field. In 2001, he became disabled due to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS). He now provides a service to advise clients with potential disability claims who have MCS, CFS and/or FMS. As these programs and law are usually federal, he is able to practice in all 50 states and, therefore, represent clients regardless of location.
Michael is a long time Sustaining Member of the National Organization for Social Security Claimants’ Representatives, the only national body for disability representatives. He is also certified as a Federal Trial Lawyer and is admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2011 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America