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About Graves' Disease
Graves' disease (toxic diffuse goiter) is characterized by hyperthyroidism and one or more of the following: goiter, exophthalmos, and pretibial myxedema. Many symptoms and signs are associated with Graves' disease. The more common signs are goiter, moist skin, tremor, eye signs (stare, lid lag, and irritation), nervousness, fatigue, and weakness.
Graves' Disease 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 Graves' Disease
People with Grave's disease 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 Grave’s disease 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?
- Has the employee been consulted regarding 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?
- Limiting lifting, reaching, pushing, and pulling by job restructuring
- Using Proper Lifting Techniques
- Reallocating lifting duties, if marginal
- Providing assistance moving objects, to reduce weight
- Organizing items in a way that reduces the need to move or lift items
- Reducing weight to be lifted by separating items into smaller groups
- Reassigning an employee to a modified duty position or modifying duties by removing the lifting duties
Situations and Solutions:
An applicant disclosed that she has Graves’ disease and mentioned trouble with writing due to persistent hand shaking.
The employer agreed to provide weighted pens to limit the effects of the hand shaking if the applicant is selected for the position.
An applicant mentioned that she had a sensitivity to heat due to Graves’ disease.
The employer agreed to provide the employee with an office with a window. This would enable her to use a window air conditioning unit as an accommodation.
An employee with Graves’ disease requested additional access to the restroom due to frequent diarrhea.
The employer provided additional unpaid breaks as an accommodation and allowed the employee to make up the lost time.
An employee diagnosed with Graves’ disease mentioned difficulty using a mouse due to hand tremors.
The employer provided an alternative mouse designed to reduce the effects of tremors as an accommodation.
An employee with Graves’ disease was having trouble getting to work on time due to insomnia.
The employer gave him flexibility in start and end times as an accommodation.