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August 14, 2013

More New Disabilities

Filed under: HR Consulting9:18 am

Just weeks ago the American Medical Association pronounced that obesity is now considered a disease.  The definition being anyone with a Body Mass Index of 30 or more.  Now, we have a few new disabilities with which to contend and employers will want to listen up!

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) recently began recognizing the following as disabilities that may also have protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the same as obesity:

  • binge eating disorder;
  • social communication disorder;
  • disruptive mood dysregulation disorder; and
  • hoarding

These newly recognized disabilities will likely affect the way employers manage the ADA and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The ADA requires employers to engage in an interactive process with disabled employees to discuss their possible need for reasonable accommodations without creating an undue hardship for the employer.  In certain circumstances, a disabled employee’s disability may render then unable to perform the essential functions of their job.  The reasonable accommodation afforded to such a disabled individual may require reassignment to other duties. In the way of accommodation, the FMLA may require that an employer allow time off for the employee to seek treatment.

Employers need to stay alert to these new classifications and any guidance that may be issued.  In the meantime, not every ailment or condition is a “substantial impairment of a major life activity” under the ADA, nor may they even be “serious health conditions,” for FMLA purposes.  By ensuring procedures are in place for medical certifications and even second opinions for conditions you may not be familiar with, will help you prepare for addressing your employees’ needs and protecting yourself.

If your employment policies need to be reviewed, please , and we will be happy to assist you!



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