The American Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) are statutes that delineate what qualifies as a disability that warrants reasonable accommodation in the workplace. What is defined as a disability in one law is not necessarily recognized as such in another. One such situation exists in regard to a condition known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
What is electromagnetic hypersensitivity?
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity is most accurately defined as a claimed sensitivity to certain types of electromagnetic fields. The reality is that at this juncture in time, electromagnetic hypersensitivity technically is not recognized as a medical condition. With that said, there are people who contend they experience various symptoms when exposed to electromagnetic fields.
ADA versus California FEHA
Federal employment laws and California employment laws differ significantly when it comes to recognizing electromagnetic hypersensitivity as a disability warranting workplace accommodation as a matter of law. The ADA does not recognize electromagnetic hypersensitivity as a disability requiring workplace accommodation. FEHA does include electromagnetic hypersensitivity as a disability requiring workplace accommodation as reasonably necessary.
FEHA definition of disability
FEHA defines disability warranting workplace reasonable accommodation as needing to satisfy two criteria. First, a purported disability must impact one or more bodily systems:
Second, the identified physical disability must limit a major life activity. If these criteria are met, under California employment laws, a worker has the ability to seek reasonable accommodation in the workplace.
Making a workplace accommodation claim based on a condition like electromagnetic hypersensitivity can be challenging. Consequently, a person who contends that he or she is suffering from something like electromagnetic hypersensitivity is wise to consult with an experienced, tenacious disability attorney.