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About Raynaud's Disease
Raynaud’s phenomenon is a rare condition that when exposed to cold temperatures or emotional stress, it causes the blood vessels to narrow resulting in numbness, tingling, and/or burning in one’s extremities. Most often it will affect a person’s fingers and toes, but can also affect the nose, ears, and lips. Minor fluctuations in temperature can cause people to have flare-ups.
There are two main types of Raynaud’s, primary being a standalone disease and the cause is unknown. Secondary is known as Raynaud’s phenomenon and/or syndrome often stemming from a known primary disease, often lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Raynaud's Disease and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA does not contain a definitive list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA defines a person with a disability as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities," (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such 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 Raynaud's Disease
People with limitations from Raynaud's phenomenon 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 who are aging 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:
The following situations and solutions are real-life examples of accommodations that were made by JAN customers. Because accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis, these examples may not be effective for every workplace but give you an idea about the types of accommodations that are possible.
A park ranger developed Raynaud’s disease, making it hard to work in extreme temperatures.
After trying various temperature controlled clothing with no success, the employee asked for a transfer to another job. During an interactive process meeting, the employer and employee found a vacancy that permitted the employee to remain indoors. The employer retained a valuable employee.
A teacher with Raynaud’s syndrome had difficulty getting to work on time during the winter months.
She asked for a modified schedule as a reasonable accommodation to permit her to arrive later, when the temperatures were warmer. The employer agreed and moved her planning period to the first part of her schedule to minimize work disruptions.
A public health registered nurse had trouble with circulation and headaches, which stemmed from Raynaud’s disease.
He requested the ability to use a private office where he could run a space heater without affecting his coworkers, which would minimize headaches and improve circulation.
An editor with Raynaud’s syndrome experienced flare ups when their shared workspace was too cold.
This made it hard to concentrate on the task at hand. The employer and employee agreed that telework would be the best accommodation as it would permit the employee to continue working while controlling the temperature.
A loan officer with Raynaud’s disease had difficulty typing when the office fell below a certain temperature.
The employer provided the employee with heated computer products which enabled her to continue typing and accomplishing work goals.