ADA / Migraines

A friend of mine suffers from migraines. She has worked at the same place for 1.5 years. She was moved to a location where her monitor faces a large uncovered window which triggers her migraines. She placed a piece of plastic above her monitor (approx 6 inches high) to shield her from the glare and was told to take it down. She just found out she is pregnant and now can't take anything for her migraines so she talked to her neurologist who wrote a note asking for a slight and very simple accommodation. (She only told her supervisor that she is pregnant due to medical appts and asked her to keep it confidential until she completes her first trimester.)

The company just informed my friend that she is now required to wear sunglasses in the office instead of trying to shield the light. They also said that her migraines are a risk to the company so she can no longer drive on company business (something that was part of her daily routine) even though the neurologist did not restrict her driving. Oh yes, and if a visitor is in the building, she needs to remove the sunglasses.

It seems to me that, 1. Making her wear sunglasses publicizes a private medical condition to everyone in the building and ridicules her, 2. Taking away her driving ability is relatiation / punishment, 3. Telling her to take the sunglasses off when a visitor is there means that they know how ridiculous they are being.

Any thoughts?


  • 7 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • If she were my employee, I would look for a way to change the orientation of her desk or monitor so it didn't face the window, since that's what triggers her migraines. That seems like the simplest fix to me, and the next simplest would be installing a blind on the window that she could lower to block the glare.

    While wearing sunglasses may work to shield her from the glare, I agree with you that making her take them off when there are visitors in the building does underscore the idea that it isn't exactly the most sensible way to deal with the problem.
  • Constant wear of sunglasses indoors might also cause her other problems. Your friend should probably check into it.

    Accomodation is an interactive process. The employee should discuss the possibilities and objections, along with her suggestions with her employer. She should also bring something from her doctor stating that she is ok to drive.

    It sounds like this employer may be over-reacting or misunderstanding the situation. I would not leap to the conclusion that they are retaliating because of the driving restriction. They are probably just overeacting due to lack of information.

    In the end, the employer must decide what accomodation is appropriate and reasonable. That's why explaining what are the possible positive and negative consequences of each possible accomodation is so important. For instance, it would be bad to have the employee trip because the employer required her to wear sunglasses and she couldn't see something in the aisle. It would be bad if the sunglasses damaged her eyesight and she had a work comp claim later because of it. But the employee must also keep in mind that the employer may have a legitimate business need to have the office set up the way it is. As I said, it is an interctive process. They need to work together to solve the issues.
  • Dumbest "accommodation" ever. EVER.
  • I couldn't have said it better myself, Frank.
  • [quote=ACU Frank;723618]Dumbest "accommodation" ever. EVER.[/quote]

    I would agree, but think that implementing a daily rain dance could be just a wee bit dumber. ;)
  • Sharon, dancing at work is NEVER the worst option.
  • Rain dancing is pretty bad, but I think sending smoke signals might be even worse. Think of the fire hazard!

    Oh - and yes, your friend needs to press for the [I]interactive [/I]part of the accommodation process. It can be scary to speak up or disagree with management, but it is the right thing to do.
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