Every year, New York employees face discrimination based on their heart conditions. Heart disease is extremely prevalent in the United States. Someone has a heart attack in the United States every 40 seconds. Nearly 18.2 million adults over the age of 20 have coronary artery disease. Heart disease is also the leading cause of death for men and women in American.
Despite the prevalence of heart disease in the United States, employers continue to discriminate against employees with the condition. If you have faced discrimination based on heart valve disease, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, or high blood pressure, our law firm can help. We have a proven track record of success when advocating for clients with heart conditions. Contact us today to discuss your case and learn more about your legal options.
Understanding Discrimination Based on Heart Conditions
Heart conditions are common in New York, yet many employees with heart conditions can continue performing their job activities without any issues. Federal, state, and New York City regulations prevent employers from discriminating against employees with heart conditions that qualify as a disability. Employers must provide employees with reasonable accommodations for their medical conditions.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on a physical or mental impairment that substantially restricts a major life activity. There is no specific list of medical conditions that automatically qualify for protection under the ADA.
Employees will need to prove that their heart condition substantially restricts a major life activity. For example, if a person with a heart condition suffers from circulatory problems that prevent them from engaging in major life activities like walking more than a short period at one time.
The ADA only applies to government employers as well as private employers with at least 15 employees. If you are not protected by the federal ADA, you might still be protected by local anti-discrimination laws. Employees who are protected by the ADA can file a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Protection for Employees with Heart Conditions Under New York State Law and New York City Law
The New York Human Rights Law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their disability or handicap. Specifically, this law protects employees with physical or mental disabilities or other medical impairments which result from any of the following:
- Physiological conditions
- Genetic conditions
- Anatomical conditions
- Neurological conditions
Heart conditions fall into physiological disorders. For an employee to be protected under this law, the heart condition must do one of the following:
- Prevent the exercise of some normal bodily function
- Be demonstrable by a medically accepted laboratory diagnostic technique or clinically
- Have a record of such a condition that is regarded by others as meeting these requirements
The New York City Human Rights Law also prohibits discrimination against victims of heart discrimination. Those employees who’ve suffered discrimination have the right to file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights and the New York State Division of Human Rights.
Workplace Challenges for Employees with Heart Conditions
Every heart condition is unique. Some people don’t even know they have heart disease until they have a heart attack. In other cases, people with heart disease must contend with serious side effects from their condition. Symptoms of a heart condition can include pain in your support jaw, throat, neck, or upper abdomen.
It can also include fainting, dizziness, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness. Other symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, as well as a slow or fast heartbeat. Employees with heart conditions might become out of breath during activity or exercise. They could also tire easily during activity and suffer from painful swelling in the ankles, feet, or hands. Fatigue is another challenge for some employees with heart disease.
Common Types of Discrimination Based on Heart Conditions
Disability discrimination based on heart conditions happens when an employer treats an employer unfairly due to the employee’s heart condition, whether the condition is perceived or actual. Unlawful discrimination can be unintentional or intentional, and direct or indirect. Another common example of discrimination happens when an employer pays an employee with a heart condition less than another similarly qualified and experienced employee. Other common types of discrimination based on heart conditions include the following:
- Exclusion or isolation by co-workers based on an employee’s heart condition
- Denying job applicants due to their heart condition
- An employer cuts an employee’s hours due to his or her heart condition
- An employer terminates an employee’s job based on the employee’s heart condition
- Withholding promotions or opportunities from an employee with a heart condition
- Giving an employee with a heart condition impossible tasks to complete
- Denying training opportunities, and promotions to an employee with a heart condition
- Not providing an employee with a heart condition benefits that other employees receive
Employers Must Make Reasonable Accommodations
New York employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with serious medical conditions, including heart conditions. Working conditions can aggravate heart conditions in employees. For example, an employee might need more time to walk to and from certain locations in the workplace due to fatigue or circulatory issues.
Or, an employee might need to take time off for medical appointments related to his or her heart condition. When an employer refuses to make reasonable accommodations for a person with a heart condition, they might be liable and face penalties.
Contact Us If You’ve Faced Workplace Discrimination Based on Your Heart Condition
If you have been subjected to workplace discrimination based on your heart condition, our law firm can help. At Lipsky Lowe LLP, we advocate for the rights of employees in New York City. We understand how difficult it is to experience discrimination based on a medical condition in the workplace. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the better. We will review the facts in your case and help you determine the best legal course of action.