The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination.

ADA Overview

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive federal law enacted in 1990 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment practices, including hiring, firing, promotions, and wages. It requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities in the workplace.

The ADA also outlaws discrimination against individuals with disabilities in state and local government services, public accommodations, transportation, telecommunications and employment.

We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding the ADA and migraine.

Who is protected under the ADA?

  • An employee with a disability and qualified to do a job is protected by the ADA from job discrimination on the basis of that disability.
  • A disability includes a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.

Are people living with migraine disease protected under the ADA?

  • Yes, if an individual with migraine meets the ADA’s definition of a disability, they are protected and may be entitled to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. To qualify as a disability under the ADA, a migraine must substantially limit one or more major life activities.

Must all employers adhere to ADA regulations?

  • ADA applies to any employer with 15 or more employees, or to any division or unit of government.
  • Some states and localities have their own disability discrimination laws that may provide additional protections for employees with migraine.

Are employers allowed to ask job candidates or employees about their disabilities?

  • No, employers should never ask anyone about a disability or make reference to the possibility that the person may have a disability. To do so is an act of discrimination.
  • An employer cannot refuse to hire an employee because his/her disability prevents them from performing duties that are not essential to the job.
  • ADA’s influence on the employment process begins when an individual applies for work. 

Are employees with disabilities entitled to accommodations in the workplace?

  • Yes, any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process or perform the essential functions of a job.
  • An employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the employer can show that the accommodation would be an undue hardship – an accommodation that would require significant difficulty or expense.
  • An extension of FMLA is a possible reasonable accommodation.

What are reasonable accommodations for people with migraine?

Examples of reasonable accommodations that an employer could provide to an employee with migraine may include:

  • Flexible work schedule: Allowing the employee to adjust their work hours or work from home to accommodate their migraine symptoms.
  • Increased breaks for food or beverage.
  • Provide a dark quiet space where an employee can resr during a migraine attack.
  • Reduced lighting or noise: Adjusting lighting or noise levels in the workplace to reduce triggers for the employee’s migraine attacks.
  • Reduce or eliminate strong odors in the workplace. 
  • Accommodation of medication: Allowing the employee to take prescribed medication, or to take breaks to use medication when needed.
  • Reassignment to a different position: If the employee’s current job duties trigger their migraine, the employer could consider reassigning them to a different position that is better suited to their needs.

ADA Protection

An employee must be qualified to perform the essential functions or duties of a job, with or without reasonable accommodation and satisfy two key requirements: 

  • Meet the employer’s requirements for the job, such as education, employment experience, skills or licenses. 
  • Be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. 

ADA’s influence on the employment process begins when an individual applies for work.  

  • Essential functions are the fundamental job duties that an employee must be able to perform on his/her own or with the help of a reasonable accommodation. 
  • An employer cannot refuse to hire an employee because his/her disability prevents them from performing duties that are not essential to the job.