Even as ADA Reaches 14th Anniversary, Questions Still Persist
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released a new fact sheet available at www.eeoc.gov addressing the workplace rights of people with epilepsy under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title I of the ADA, which is enforced by the EEOC, protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination by private and state and local government employers with 15 or more employees. President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law on July 26, 1990.
"Epilepsy does not hinder a person's ability to be a productive employee or compromise safety in the workplace," said Commission Chair Cari M. Dominguez. "Too often, however, individuals with epilepsy are still denied job opportunities because of misperceptions and fears about this condition. The EEOC's fact sheet dispels some of these myths and answers frequently asked questions about how people with epilepsy are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 2.3 million people in the United States have some form of epilepsy, with more than 180,000 new cases diagnosed each year in Americans of all races and ages. Epilepsy is a general term that includes various types of seizures. A seizure happens when abnormal electrical activity in the brain causes an involuntary change in body movement or function, sensation, awareness, or behavior. People diagnosed with epilepsy have had more than one seizure.
The Epilepsy Foundation and other organizations point out that most people with epilepsy will probably never have a seizure on the job, and people with epilepsy do not have more accidents on the job or raise an employer's insurance premiums.
The EEOC's new fact sheet explains:
This publication is the second in a series of EEOC fact sheets focusing on particular disabilities in the workplace. Last October, the Commission released a fact sheet on the ADA and people with diabetes.
The EEOC has taken a leadership role in advancing President George W. Bush's New Freedom Initiative, the Administration's comprehensive strategy for the full integration of people with disabilities into all aspects of American life. Efforts include increased ADA outreach to small businesses nationwide and an in-progress study of best practices used to enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities in state government. To date, the states of Florida, Maryland, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Washington have joined the States' Best Practices Project as partners.
In addition to enforcing Title I of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government, the EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older; the Equal Pay Act; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.