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What laws protect against discrimination due to health problems?

A bought of the flu or the common cold might force you to take a sick day, but you typically will not worry about it impacting your job in the long run. However, if you have a more serious condition, you might be concerned over whether it could lead to workplace discrimination. There are some key laws in place to make sure that this does not happen if you work in Minnesota.

As mentioned in a previous post, the Family and Medical Leave Act protects workers who require a leave of absence from work due to an extended illness or injury. If you meet the requirements, you have 12 weeks in which you can take unpaid leave without any fear of losing your job or any other type of retribution, including having to undergo any major hurdles in order to return to your position. Almost any medical condition is covered by FMLA, but you typically need to have some sort of doctor's note confirming it.

The FMLA covers illnesses and injuries that only take you away from your job for a short period of time, however. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Americans with Disability Act of 1990 covers any disability that leads to a major impairment. It also provides protection against unfair practices and ensures equal opportunities if you have a disability. This means you are protected from any discrimination, including any hiring, firing, job assignments, benefits, pay or other related activities as long as you can perform the duties with reasonable accommodation.

There are many chronic conditions that might lead to some minor impairment, but the ADA focuses on protecting you if you have a substantial impairment. This would include a disability that involves basic life activities, such as talking, walking, hearing, seeing, learning or breathing. More recent amendments to the ADA have added coverage for impairments to major bodily functions. For example, if you have irritable bowel syndrome and require frequent bathroom breaks, your employer cannot use this against you and must provide you with proximity to a bathroom and other accommodations. The ADA also protects you if you have been diagnosed with diabetes or cancer, of if you have a history of these diseases. This information is intended to educate only and should not be considered as legal advice.

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