Fibromyalgia Accommodations for Federal Employees

Experts may not fully understand why individuals develop fibromyalgia, but they know that the condition is painful and debilitating for many. And what can a federal employee with fibromyalgia do when the symptoms of their condition affect their ability to perform their job? They can request reasonable accommodations from their employer. 

In regard to fibromyalgia, reasonable accommodations for federal employees may be required. Knowing what accommodations would make your time at work less difficult is not always easy, but we can help you identify accommodations and effectively request them from your boss.

At Pines Federal, our experienced reasonable accommodation lawyers place 100% of their focus on the needs of federal employees. We have over 60 years of combined experience and an award-winning track record. Contact us online or call (800) 801-0598 today if you need a skilled and knowledgeable advocate.

Disability Rights for Employees

There are several federal laws that protect employees living with disabilities. You may have heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits job discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires employers to reasonably accommodate their workforce.

But the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act) specifically applies to federal employees, giving them a right to accommodations in the workplace and shielding them from employment discrimination in the same way the ADA does. 

What Is a Disability Under Federal Law?

The ADA defines someone with a disability as any of the following:

  • A person with a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities,
  • A person who is perceived as having an impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities, or
  • A person who has a history or record of having an impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities.

Whether you are currently struggling with symptoms from your fibromyalgia or you have experienced symptoms in the past, federal law protects you from employer mistreatment.

There are countless major life activities that a disability could disrupt, warranting an accommodation in the workplace. 

These major life activities include:

  • Sleeping,
  • Seeing,
  • Speaking,
  • Concentrating,
  • Working,
  • Hearing,
  • Breathing,
  • Walking,
  • Lifting,
  • Thinking,
  • Reading,
  • Eating,
  • Bending,
  • Standing,
  • Learning, and 
  • Communicating.

A disability can also include an impairment to a major bodily function such as reproduction, circulation, or the operation of individual organs. 

Is Fibromyalgia a Disability Under the ADA?

Depending on how it affects an individual, fibromyalgia can be a disability under the ADA. Many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia disrupt the daily functions that we mentioned above. 

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases notes that fibromyalgia can cause individuals with the condition to experience the following:

  • Stiffness in the joints and muscles;
  • Sensitivity to everyday stimuli, such as noise, temperature, odors, or light;
  • Digestive issues;
  • Numbness or tingling in the limbs;
  • Trouble with memory, concentration, or thinking;
  • Tenderness to touch;
  • Fatigue;
  • Chronic, widespread pain in the body; and 
  • Trouble sleeping.

As you can see, any one of an individual’s major life activities can be significantly affected by their fibromyalgia. In light of what they go through, federal employees with fibromyalgia deserve work accommodations.  

Reasonable Accommodations for Fibromyalgia

Under the Rehabilitation Act, federal employees with disabilities have the right to reasonable accommodations at work. A reasonable accommodation is any modification to a job or the workplace that enables an employee with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunity. 

Asking Your Employer for an Accommodation

You will likely need to notify your employer about your need for an accommodation. This can be a formal, written request or an informal, verbal request. Once your employer receives notice, it must engage in an interactive process to determine whether you qualify as having a disability and whether the accommodation you need is reasonable. In general, an accommodation is reasonable if it doesn’t cause undue hardship to your employer, meaning it doesn’t cause your employer significant expense or difficulty. 

Remember that you have the right to reasonable accommodations when you are working for a federal employer and when you apply or interview for a federal job. And while you don’t have to tell your employer (or prospective employer) the exact type of accommodation you need, providing suggestions can help you obtain the necessary relief.

Examples of Workplace Accommodations for Fibromyalgia

The Job Accommodation Network identifies multiple accommodations for fibromyalgia in the workplace that could make your work life less taxing. 

These accommodations include:

  • Ergonomic equipment,
  • Alternative lighting,
  • An aide or assistant,
  • Anti-fatigue matting,
  • Task rotation,
  • Memory software or apps,
  • Walkers,
  • Auto-dialers,
  • A wheelchair,
  • Anti-glare filters,
  • Job restructuring,
  • Recorded directives,
  • Alternative cleaning materials,
  • Anti-vibration gloves,
  • Telework or remote work,
  • Private workspace,
  • Grab bars,
  • Fans or portable heaters,
  • Air purifiers or cleaners,
  • A modified break schedule,
  • Face masks or respirators,
  • Policy modifications,
  • Counseling,
  • A support animal,
  • Heated or cooling clothing, and
  • A scooter.

This list is a snapshot of the accommodations that you could receive to ameliorate the effects that fibromyalgia has on your ability to work. We can provide assistance and resources to pinpoint the best accommodations for you that are most likely to be granted. 

Discussing a disability that is holding you back at work and your need for accommodation isn’t easy. But Pines Federal is here to advocate for your protection and for you to have equal access to opportunities at work. Speak to us whenever you are facing employment challenges that you believe implicate your rights. We know the solutions.

We Can Safeguard Your Well-Being

Your rights as an employee are many, but asserting those rights can be a challenging process. That’s why we are here for you. Pines Federal is an award-winning law firm that handles all things federal employment and nothing else. We dedicate our time and professional experience to protecting the rights of the federal workforce.

We have decades of combined experience, and we have worn large sums for federal employees with disabilities, including fibromyalgia. When you need a professional to guide you and protect your physical, mental, and professional health, we can fill that role. Contact us online or call (800) 801-0598 today to schedule a consultation.