Blood disorders include anemia, bleeding disorders, blot clots and blood cancers. Anemia is a deficiency of red blood cells, or hemoglobin in the blood. Currently, it is estimated that 3 million Americans suffer from anemia. Common symptoms of anemia include weakness, dizziness, fast or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, pounding in the ear, headache, cold extremities, and pale or yellow skin. Bleeding disorders characterizes a group of conditions that occurs when blood lacks necessary components to clot, such as hemophilia and von Willebrand disease. Common symptoms of both hemophilia and von Willebrand include easy bruising, heavy bleeding from small cuts, bleeding gums, heavy menstrual bleeding, and unexplained nose bleeds. Conversely, blood clots are when a clot happens without obvious injury and does not dissolve naturally. Blood clots can form in both arteries and veins. Blood clots in an artery can cause heart attack or stroke. Clots in the veins lead to pain and swelling in the area of the clot because of a buildup of blood behind the clot, most commonly in the leg, known as Deep Vein Thrombosis. Alternatively, blood clots in the vein can detach and travel to the heart and lungs resulting in a pulmonary embolism, which is extremely dangerous. Blood cancers include leukemia, lymphoma, and myelom. For a full discussion of fighting discrimination for cancer patients and survivors, please click the link provided.
The conditions and associated symptoms described above all have the ability to affect the way an individual with a blood disorder performs at work. However, an individual with a blood disorder may be experiencing symptoms, but can still perform the essential job functions of their job if provided with a reasonable accommodation depending on the type of occupation involved. It is important to know that employers must provide these reasonable accommodations.
Individuals with anemia, bleeding disorders, blood clots or blood cancers may feel tentative when interviewing because they know they will have to request reasonable accommodations, or because they are aware that their disorder may require missed days at work or acute symptoms requiring early departure unexpectedly. They may be worried about having to tell their employer about their blood disorder, and how it may affect their chances of getting a position. It is important to know that the Americans with Disabiliteis Act (ADA) guides conduct during the application process as well. Employers are not permitted to ask an applicant about medical conditions, treatments or use of medication. If an individual chooses to disclose this information to a future employer, the employer is required to keep this information strictly confidential. Further, and employer cannot require a medical examination prior to an offer of employment. However, they are permitted to inquire if the applicant will need accommodations during the application process, and can require a medical examination post-offer if required by all employees. If the presence of the applicant’s blood disorder is later discovered during a required post-offer medical examination, the employee cannot be dismissed.
Once an offer is made, and an employer is made aware of the presence of an employee’s blood disorder, the employer may be leery of continuing illness, or believe the employee to be high risk. These conjectures may lead the employer to discriminatory conduct, including changes in responsibilities, demotion, outright dismissal, failure to promote, or the creation of a hostile work environment to force an employee out.
Persons with blood disorders that substantially limit a major life activity are considered disabled under the ADA and are therefore entitled to protection against discrimination. If you live in the metro New York area, including Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan, or on Long Island, in either Nassau or Suffolk County, and have experienced discrimination in the workplace because of your blood disorder or related symptoms, you should contact a New York disability attorney.