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Asthma and allergies aren’t always disabilities

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Some employees claim they have asthma and allergies that are exacerbated by common workplace smells. That doesn’t mean, however, that em­­ployers have to create an allergen-free environment.

Often, such employees won’t be con­­sidered disabled. Thus, they’re not entitled to accommodations.

Recent case: Tina Milton worked in a prison and complained that dust, cleaning odors and perfumes caused asthma and allergy attacks. She asked for a contamination-free workplace and went out on medical leave. When the prison couldn’t find an appropriate job or work space, it terminated Milton when her leave ended. She sued, alleging ADA violations.

The court threw out her case, reasoning that Milton wasn’t disabled just because she sometimes was short of breath and had to cough. (Milton v. Texas, No. 11-10-303, SD TX, 2011)

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