When you’re diagnosed with lupus, you may have many questions about how to handle your lupus at work. You may wonder how long you’ll be able to work. Or what to do if there are certain job functions you have difficulty doing. And you may worry about whether to tell your employer and coworkers that you have lupus.
How you answer these questions depends largely on your individual symptoms and what kind of work you do. Many people are able to work for many years with lupus. But you may need to adjust your schedule or your work environment. For example, you may need to work different hours or take longer breaks. Or, you may need special tools to help you do your job. These are called accommodations. The key is to work with your employer to find accommodations that are acceptable to you both.
This article will help you understand your rights as an employee and offer tips on how to talk with your employer about getting the accommodations you need to continue working.
Know Your Rights as a Person With Lupus
Before talking with your boss about your lupus it’s important to know your rights. Learning about the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) can help. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who have a disability, including lupus, so they can continue to perform their job.
You may also want to talk with a job accommodation specialist. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) at askjan.org is a free service of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. A JAN consultant can talk with you about your limitations and help you brainstorm accommodations that may work for you. The consultant can also coach you on how to talk with your employer about your disability.
“Some people feel bad about asking for an accommodation, or are nervous that their co-workers will get upset if they get special treatment,” says Linda Batiste, a principle consultant at JAN. “But I remind them that it’s not really special treatment. They are only asking for what they need to continue doing their job.”