Be Sure to Research the Right Accommodation for You
Because the symptoms of lupus can vary from person to person, there are a wide range of possible accommodations. The type of accommodation you need will depend on your specific symptoms.
“The most common accommodations we see for lupus have to do with a modified work schedule because of fatigue,” says Whidden. “Shortening work hours or having a flexible start time can be very effective.”
Some other types of accommodations for lupus may include:
- Longer breaks
- Flexible work hours
- Working from home
- Use of a service animal at work
- Use of a personal attendant at work
- Special lighting around your workstation
- A workstation close to the restroom
- A facility and workstation that are accessible
- A scooter or other way to get around if your job involves a lot of walking
- Special equipment to operate the computer or telephone
- A parking spot close to your workplace
- Memory aids, such as organizers or a schedule
- Minimizing distractions around your work area
- Reducing job stress
- Special protective clothing or hats to block UV rays when working outside
“People with lupus come up with all kinds of solutions that work well for them,” says Batiste. “We encourage people to be creative and to really think outside the box. The more options you can give to your employer, the more likely you’ll find a solution together.”
In some cases, you may ask that non-essential tasks be removed from your workload if you have trouble performing them. “We spoke with a schoolteacher who had light sensitivity,” says Whidden. “She had no trouble performing her job in the classroom. But it was difficult for her to do recess or lunch duty outside. This is the kind of task that may be deemed non-essential.”
Tell Co-workers About Your Lupus Only If You Are Comfortable
Whether you decide to tell your coworkers about your lupus is up to you. Under the ADA, your employer can’t tell other employees about your condition or about any accommodations being made for you unless the employee “needs to know.” This may be the case for your direct supervisor or boss.
“Some people want everyone to know, so coworkers understand why they are getting what might look like special treatment. Other people don’t want anyone to know. It’s really up to the individual,” says Whidden.
Consider Another Job If Lupus Interferes With Work Too Much
It may be that you and your employer are not able to agree on accommodations. Or it may be a hardship for your employer to make the accommodations you need. Under the ADA, employers are not required to make changes that are too costly or too disruptive to the company.
You may also find that it’s too difficult for you to deal with the stress of your job and the symptoms of lupus. In these cases it may be time to look for another job or think about switching to part-time hours at your current job.
“Sometimes, despite the best efforts to make accommodations, people have disabilities that just don’t fit with their job,” says Whidden. “Rather than getting stressed out about trying to continue to do a certain job, people are often a lot happier finding other work that fits better with their disability.”