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June 1997

The Americans With Disabilities Act and Dermatologists

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, The Johns Hopkins University (Dr Vaswani), and the Environmental and Occupational Dermatology Center, Department of Dermatology, University of Maryland (Dr Nethercott), Baltimore, Md.

Arch Dermatol. 1997;133(6):695-698. doi:10.1001/archderm.1997.03890420021002

The passage and implementation of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) has established certain rights in law for persons with disabilities, including patients with skin disease. For workers in workplaces employing more than 15 workers, management may not exclude a worker from a job unless it can be objectively demonstrated that their skin disease will make it impossible for them to perform the essential functions of the job. Employers, at their expense, are now required to provide those disabled with skin disease with reasonable accommodation to allow them to perform their jobs while having their skin impairment. Unless the skin impairment can be shown to place the worker or their fellow workers at material risk to their health, the employer may not exclude them from working—even if the employer is concerned that it may make their skin disease worse. The act applies both to new employees and those acquiring disabling skin disease who are employed and wish to stay at work or return to work. Arbitration of dispute between employees and management are the responsibility of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), a federal agency responsible for the legislation.