ESEO provides a number of services to help employers integrate employees with epilepsy into their workplace. Together we can reduce barriers to employment for people with epilepsy. Please contact us for presentations on Epilepsy First Aid in the workplace.
We can work with employers and employees to ensure that appropriate accommodations are in place. Many people with epilepsy don’t require many, if any, workplace accommodations. Most workplace accommodation costs for employees with epilepsy are low.
We can also help employers develop a seizure safety plan for each employee with epilepsy. This plan will help the employer better understand an employee’s seizures, identify when a seizure is a medical emergency, and assist someone when they’re having a seizure.
ESEO offers seizure first aid posters/presentations and the following informational Spark sheets:
Can I be fired because of my epilepsy?
Both federal and provincial human rights codes prevent employers from firing someone because they have a diagnosis of epilepsy. However, employers sometimes use other reasons to mask a discriminatory termination.
What are my rights if I am fired because of a seizure?
If you think you’ve lost your job because of your epilepsy, whether or not your employer admits to it, you have the right to use the Human Rights complaint process. Contact us for guidance or the Office of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
What kind of accommodations should my employer make?
Some people with epilepsy don’t require any accommodations at work, while others may require accommodations to help them avoid triggers, ensure they can remain safe if they have a seizure while on the job, or help them adapt to seizure or medication side effects. Workplace accommodations for epilepsy are inexpensive, easy to make, and only require a little creativity and flexibility. Here is a list of examples of reasonable accommodations for people with epilepsy:
- Job restructuring—redistributing nonessential, marginal job functions, such as driving, to other employees
- In a case of photosensitive epilepsy, replacing flickering light in an employee’s work area and/or adjusting the display intensity on their computer if these trigger seizures.
- Installing a safety shield around a piece of machinery.
- Installing a piece of carpet to cover a concrete floor in the employee’s work area.
- Putting work instructions in writing (rather than just giving them orally) if memory difficulties/deficits are a side effect of the seizure disorder or anti-seizure medication.
- Scheduling consistent work shifts if seizure activity is made worse by inconsistent sleep patterns.
- Allowing an employee who experiences fatigue as a side effect of medication the place and opportunity to take frequent rest breaks.
- Allowing an employee to take time off to recover after a seizure.
There are extensive resources for employers about accommodations at www.epilepsyatwork.com. You may find these resources helpful, too.
Can an employer ask about epilepsy when I apply for a job?
It is illegal for an employer to ask medical questions on an application form under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Should such a question appear on an application anyway (likely due to employer ignorance), you can refuse to answer it.
The employer may, however, ask you questions during the interview to determine your ability to perform the particular job. A sample appropriate question would be “Do you have any medical condition which would interfere with your ability to perform this job?” It is illegal to ask, “Do you have any medical problems?” In other words, a medical question in the job interview must be tied to ability to do the job, not just to gather information.
A work-related medical examination may only be requested after a written offer of employment.
Can an employer refuse to hire me because I have epilepsy?
Only if it would be dangerous for you to work with certain machinery necessary to perform the essential functions of the job, and this risk cannot be sufficiently reduced through a reasonable accommodation.