Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. This inflammation involves different areas of the digestive tract in different people, and can lead to severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even malnutrition. Symptoms of Crohn’s include diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, blood in the stool, ulcers, and reduced appetite and weight loss. Crohn's disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications. The cause of Crohn’s disease is still unknown. While diet and stress can aggravate symptoms, they do not cause the disease. Similarly, there is no known cure for Crohn's disease. However, various medications and therapies can greatly reduce symptoms and potentially lead to long-term remission. With treatment, many people with Crohn's disease are able to function well.
Although advances in medicine and research have made it possible that Crohn’s does not permanently debilitate those who suffer from it, it can still impair an individual’s daily life activities, and negatively affect a person’s personal and professional life. This is particularly true during flare-ups, when symptoms of the disease are intensified and more frequent. Due to the sensitive nature of the symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, individuals with Crohn’s do not often share what’s going on with supervisors and co-workers. However, it is important to know that a little understanding can go a long way, and opening up to and educating supervisors and co-workers can lead to a more comfortable workplace environment. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and some individuals suffering from Crohn’s disease who do open up to people at work encounter unsympathetic supervisors who do not care to understand the disease and its complications. This lack of understanding can sometimes amount to discrimination in the workplace towards individuals suffering from Crohn’s disease. There are many ways that an employer can discriminate, including outright dismissal, changes in responsibilities or position, demotion, or continually failing to promote. In some instances, rather than make these affirmative changes, employers choose to create a hostile work environment in order to push employees out by forcing them to quit.
Even if an employer does not take such extreme action, such as firing or causing the inability to advance, some employers refuse to provide reasonable accommodations for those suffering from Crohn’s. For example, an employee can request time off, or the flexibility to work from home during flare-ups, or request to move his or her desk closer to the restroom. However, regardless of supervisor support, and efforts made by the employee, it can still be extremely difficult working with Crohn’s. If an employee requests reasonable accommodations, his or her employer is required to provide it.
Persons on Long Island, in either Nassau or Suffolk County, or in the five boroughs of New York City; Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manahattan, who suffer from Crohn’s disease have been considered disabled within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and are protected against discrimination. If an individual with Crohn’s disease has been denied reasonable accommodations at work or has experienced other form of discrimination in the workplace, they should contact a New York disability discrimination lawyer.