Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a very common disability within industrialized cities where you will find a large population of clerical and administrative workers. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs to people who are typing for long periods of time or who perform tasks that involve repetitive motions. Carpal tunnel syndrome has been identified by the federal law as a disability that is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
The Orange County Workers’ Compensation Attorneys believe that carpal tunnel syndrome is a serious issue that can alter a person's lifestyle if it goes untreated. If you are a worker suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome it is crucial that you understand the laws that guide the claiming system. In a carpal tunnel syndrome workers’ compensation claim, all the factors that contributed to your disability are considered. Carpal tunnel syndrome can result from performing various activities that are not work-related. In repetitive strain injury (RSI) claims you will find that your employer will attempt to blame your outside of work activities as a factor to your disability so that the company is protected from your claims. Depending on your case and state law you may qualify for workers’ compensation, however, there are many cases when workers’ compensation will not cover your disability.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have defined carpal tunnel syndrome and other RSI as disabilities. Under these regulations employees suffering from an RSI have certain benefits that protect their rights to work. CTS and other RSI may require additional breaks from work to relieve your muscle and joint pain. Under the FEHA and ADA regulations, your employer must accommodate any disabled employee so that he or she can maintain a steady recovery. The regulations and anti-discrimination policies that govern disabled employees are protected under the law and any violation of these can be enough evidence to pursue a lawsuit.
Orange County Workers’ Compensation Attorney can help you handle your carpal tunnel case to ensure that you receive some form of compensation from your employer or third-party insurer. People suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome should consult an attorney to determine the best solution to their case. To contact our offices please call 949-423-3212.
Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI): Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) are injuries that occur to the nervous and musculoskeletal system due to repetitive motions, vibrations, squeezing or pressing or other unnatural mechanical movements. RSI are common in workplaces where individuals perform repetitive tasks throughout the day this includes typists, hair stylists, construction workers, cooks, cashiers, and other professions that require you to perform repetitive motions.
People who suffer from a repetitive strain injury may experience:
- Damage to their nervous system which may cause a loss of sensation and loss of strength
- Damage to their muscle tissue which may lead to pulsating or vibrating sensations in the distressed muscle or joint
- An itchy stinging sensation throughout the hands or elbow joints
One of the most common RSI is tendonitis which is the swelling of the tendon. The tendon connects the muscle and bone allowing us to move around and perform daily activities. Another common workplace disability is carpal tunnel syndrome which affects Americans performing manual labor or other tasks that requires hand movements.
Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) may limit a person's lifestyle causing them work complications that can affect their financial stability or may impede them from performing other daily tasks which may affect their social lifestyle. RSI result from a variety of factors that are unrelated to your work which is why RSI’s cases end with zero compensation from the employer. Finding an attorney who understands RSI will help you present a strong case for your compensation claims.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) develops over a long period of time when the median nerve is compressed at the wrist. The median nerve is located between the forearm and the palm of the hand and can be found housed in the carpal tunnel along with tendons that allow movement in your hands. When an irritated tendon swells inside the carpal tunnel it causes the person to lose strength and it is accompanied by numbness in the hands.
The carpal tunnel is a bone structure used as a passageway for the tendons and median nerve which is located at the base of the palm. People who have developed carpal tunnel syndrome can seek recovery through surgery or may pursue non-surgical methods. If an employee chooses to recover through medication or other medical services, the cost of recovery can quickly add up.
If you develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it is crucial that you seek an attorney who can help you file for some form of compensation to help cover the cost of recovery. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can limit your everyday activities and prevent you from working at the standards of other co-workers. State laws define CTS as a disability that cannot be discriminated against in the workplace by an employer or company. Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), your employer is required to follow laws that deny them the right to discriminate against an employee with a disability. FEHA and ADA ensure that your employer accommodates your disability so that you may continue to work and recover at your own pace. Discriminating against your disability can be cause enough to claim a lawsuit against an employer that has violated the regulations and standards established by the FEHA and ADA.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act
The state of California passed its first Fair Employment and Housing Act in 1959 which aimed to protect employees and other civilians from discrimination in housing and employment. Since then, the law has developed to include certain regulations to protect the rights of employees with mental and physical disabilities from employer or company discrimination. In addition, the FEHA includes that all employers need to provide certain accommodations for disabled employees and failure to do so is a form of discrimination that can be addressed in a court of law.
Under the California FEHA law, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees so that they are enabled to perform the job-related tasks. Unless it would cause an undue hardship to the company, an employer must fulfill the reasonable accommodation request in a timely manner. Reasonable accommodations can mean:
- Allowing employees to skip work hours so that they can receive medical attention and stick to any medical recovery program
- Supplying employees with technological aid to relieve work stress
- Allowing the employee to take breaks when needed
- Providing the disabled worker with a flexible schedule and movable work hours
- Allowing the disabled employee to switch occupations from the occupation which is causing the physical or mental stress
- Allowing the employee to relocate to a more convenient location if possible
FEHA requires that employers provide practical accommodations for employees or applicants to help them perform their daily tasks. In addition, an employer is obligated to find timely solutions to accommodation requests so that the employee is not kept in struggling situations for a long period of time.
FEHA describes three conditions that are considered disabilities and that are protected by the law from employer discrimination.
- Physical Disability: FEHA establishes that physical disability is when a person with a physical disorder or condition is prevented from performing different life tasks. A physical disease is one that affects one or more body systems.
- Mental Disability: FEHA establishes that mental disability is having any psychological condition that complicates daily tasks and impacts other life activities
- Medical Condition: FEHA establishes that medical conditions are protected under the law from discrimination
When you bring your disability to your employer he or she cannot restrict you from using a wheelchair or other objects that facilitate your disability. An employer must adhere to the regulations and standards under the California FEHA law to ensure that employees and applicants with disabilities receive fair accommodations. Once your employer establishes your disability, there must be a process put in place that investigates the employee's daily tasks and then determines the reasonable accommodations for the employee.
Failing to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with Carpal tunnel syndrome and other disabilities is a violation of the regulations that have been practiced in California law since 1959. If your employer fails to provide reasonable accommodation to your disability after you filed a request, you may pursue a claim in a court of law. Discrimination is a very serious offense that may result in compensations for employees with physical, mental, and medical conditions.
The following pdf describes in more detail the FEHA rights associated with disabled employees: www.dfeh.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2017/06/DFEH-208DH.pdf
FEHA and Employer Rights
Some businesses may deny accommodation requests under FEHA if the accommodation request would heavily burden or impact the company or employers business. The following factors are considered when deciding if the accommodation requested can be fulfilled or not.
- The financial cost of the accommodation
- The financial stability of the company, the number of employees, and the effect of the accommodation in the workplace
- The size of the business including the number of other locations and facilities
- The functions that are required to perform the job duties
Small business owners with a low count of employees may have the right to deny an accommodation request if his or her business is financially restricted. If an employee requires an additional set of hands to perform the task of one person, the employer would be able to deny the request if the company is unable to hire another person. While employers are kept to a high standard, there are situations where employers cannot fulfill a request due to monetary reasons. Employers in these situations are protected by the FEHA law. In a court of law, an employer should present reasons for their inability to supply the employee's accommodation request.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The United States Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities act to enforce laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability in the workplace. Under this law, an employer cannot discriminate employees or applicants because of their gender, religion, race, national origin and disability.
ADA explains that a disability is one that is life-altering meaning that it impacts major life activities like breathing, thinking, learning, communicating, seeing, and hearing. Like FEHA, ADA provides protection from discrimination to people with medical, mental, and physical conditions.
Under ADA regulation employers must ensure that employees with disabilities have:
- Fair treatment from other employees and provide a harassment-free working environment
- An opportunity and fair treatment when applying for jobs that they are qualified to perform
- Access to the benefits that the workplace provides to other members of the company. This includes medical coverage and other insurances that employees obtain through company benefits
- Access to the benefits that the company provides such as promotions or raises
The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures fair treatment of employees with disabilities across every job type in America. If you suffer from cancer, a repetitive strain injury, diabetes, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, down syndrome, drug addiction, and other intellectual or physical disabilities, you may have the right to request a reasonable accommodation at work so that you may recover from your disability and remain employed. If your disability was caused by a work-related stress, with enough evidence, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim and receive medical and disability benefits. Talk to a local attorney about your state law and determine the filing procedure that is right for you.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act have provided regulations to ensure that your employer follows a strict code of conduct when managing disabled workers. The Orange County Workers Compensation Attorney can assure that there are ways in which you can receive compensation for your disabilities. Though you may not qualify for monetary benefits you may be entitled to medical benefits so that you are freed from medical treatment costs.
To learn more about your rights as an employee who is suffering from a disability, please contact our offices at 949-423-3212. We are ready to provide legal assistance and representation in any court of law.