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About Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD, Acid Reflux, Heartburn)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)--the muscle connecting the esophagus with the stomach. Gastroesophageal refers to the stomach and esophagus. Reflux means to flow back or return; gastroesophageal reflux is the return of the stomach's contents back up into the esophagus. Many people have from heartburn or acid indigestion caused by GERD, and some people have GERD symptoms due to a hiatal hernia. In most cases, heartburn can be relieved through diet and lifestyle changes; however, some people may require medication or surgery.
Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD, Acid Reflux, Heartburn) and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).
Accommodating Employees with Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD, Acid Reflux, Heartburn)
People with GERD may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with arthritis will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
Questions to Consider:
- What limitations is the employee experiencing?
- How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
- Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
- Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?
Situations and Solutions:
During the holiday season an employer hosts an employee appreciation luncheon.
An employee with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and obesity was on a restrictive diet, which included avoiding foods and drinks that triggered severe symptoms. In addition to the food typically provided for the event, the employer agreed to work with the catering company to develop additional dishes that the employee would be able to eat. This accommodation benefited others with similar sensitivities to food.
An employee recovering from surgery, which was needed as a result of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), was not able to commute to work.
The employee was able to perform most of their job from home but there was not enough work to support full time telework. The employee was able to find alternative transportation to the office two days a week and the employer agreed to provide telework three days a week.
An employee with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) requested leave in order to go to doctors’ appointments.
The employer offered a modified schedule instead, so that the employee could make up the time missed without needing to use accrued leave.
Because of medications being taken for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), an employee regularly experienced fatigue in the morning and occasionally in the afternoon.
The employer modified the employees schedule to allow for a later arrival and departure. The employee was also provided a space to rest during the afternoon, as needed.
An employee who experienced gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) requested accommodations due to an exacerbation of symptoms when experiencing stress.
The employer worked with the employee to identify tasks that contributed to the employee feeling overly stressed during the workday. Although the employer did not have to eliminate essential functions of the job, they agreed to modify the employee’s break schedule so they could step away from their work periodically, supervisory methods were adjusted, and higher cubicle walls were provided so that the employee was less distracted by others.