Top 25 Workplace Accommodations for Individuals with Autoimmune Conditions

Holly Bertone, CNHP, PMP

This article is shared by Holly Bertone, CNHP, PMP, President of Pink Fortitude, and author of the #1 Amazon bestselling book, Thriving in the Workplace with Autoimmune Disease: Know Your Rights, Resolve Conflict, and Reduce Stress.

Two very common symptoms across many with Autoimmune Disease are fatigue and joint pain, both of which are “invisible.” The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer (“undue hardship”).

A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done) to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.

An employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the employer can show that the accommodation would be an undue hardship — that is, that it would require significant difficulty or expense.  Undue hardship means that the accommodation would be too difficult or too expensive to provide, in light of the employer’s size, financial resources, and the needs of the business. An employer may not refuse to provide an accommodation just because it involves some cost. An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee or job applicant wants. If more than one accommodation works, the employer may choose which one to provide.

For those struggling with fatigue, accommodations might include extra rest periods, reduced hours or the ability to work at home.  Your life is not just about your work, and you only have so much energy to expend on any given day. You still need to function during those 16 hours of the day that you are not at your job. Conserving energy is crucial.

According to JAN, there is no comprehensive list of accommodations that MUST be provided under the ADA. While all AI diseases and symptoms are different, this is a substantial list of reasonable accommodations to help get you started. It is by no means a complete list, but I’ve compiled the top 25 accommodations that are specific to help those with AI:

  1. Work from home
  2. Allow flexible work and leave schedule
  3. Allow periodic and/or longer breaks
  4. Reduce job stress
  5. Reduce or eliminate physical exertion
  6. Provide parking close to work site
  7. Switch to an ergonomic chair
  8. Keep work environment free from dust, smoke, odor, and fumes
  9. Implement a “fragrance-free” workplace policy and a “smoke free” building policy
  10. Avoid temperature extremes
  11. Use fan/air-conditioner or heater at the workstation
  12. Redirect air conditioning and heating vents
  13. Provide sensitivity training to coworkers
  14. Allow telephone calls during work hours to doctors and others for support
  15. Provide information on counseling and employee assistance programs
  16. Restructure job to only include essential functions
  17. Control glare by adding a glare screen to the computer
  18. Move workstation closer to the restroom
  19. Provide access to a refrigerator
  20. Allow for workstation to minimize distractions
  21. Allow a self-paced workload
  22. Provide ergonomic workstation
  23. Install low wattage overhead lights
  24. Use computer monitor glare guards
  25. Avoid infectious agents and chemicals.

The #1 Amazon bestseller, Managing Your Autoimmune Condition in the Workplace is the first book ever to educate individuals specifically with autoimmune disease on their legal and disability rights in the workplace. The book was born out of author Holly Bertone’s personal and painful experience and lack of resources available specifically for individuals with autoimmune diseases. She walks you through the basics of navigating FMLA, EEO, reasonable accommodations, working with your boss, and then provides much needed resources to help you find that critical balance between taking care of your health and managing your symptoms at work.

Holly Bertone, CNHP, PMP, is a best selling author, and health entrepreneur. She is the President and CEO of Pink Fortitude, LLC and runs the health and wellness website Holly is a breast cancer and Hashimoto’s survivor and turned these two significant health challenges into a passion to help others. She inspires others with her quick wit, brutal honesty, and simple ways to be healthy in real life. You can follow her on social media: @pinkfortitude