Lupus on the Job: Your Rights and Responsibilities

From the WebMD Archives


Ask for an Accommodation If You Need One at Work

If you need help doing your job, you need to tell your employer about your disability and ask for an accommodation. Under the ADA, employers aren’t required to provide accommodations until they have been told you need one. You can ask for an accommodation in writing, in a personal meeting, or by doing both.

“I usually recommend writing a letter so you have a written record of your request,” says Eddie Whidden, a senior consultant for JAN. “But it’s also helpful to meet with your employer in person to hand over the letter and talk about your request. This approach works well for a lot of people.”

When asking for your request, here are a few ideas to keep in mind:

  • Be specific. Think about the specific job functions you need help with and offer some ideas for accommodations that might help. For example, if you have photosensitivity, you might request special lighting. Or if you become fatigued in the afternoon, you could suggest a shorter workday or a longer break after lunch. It’s also a good idea to include medical records or a note from your doctor to back up your request.
  • Try to focus on the positive. “Tell your employee how a particular accommodation will make you a more productive employee,” says Batiste. “Let your employer know how the company will benefit from making this accommodation and help you do your job better.
  • Keep an open mind. Although it’s helpful to offer specific suggestions to your employer, it’s also important to keep an open mind. “Your employer may have other ideas about how to help you. So try to stay flexible and consider all possibilities,” says Batiste.

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.”