Having a mental health condition should not exclude you from the workplace or prevent you from making a living. And if you are a federal employee with bipolar disorder, reasonable accommodations to help you execute your job duties while dealing with your symptoms are your right.

At Pines Federal, our award-winning reasonable accommodation attorneys focus only on helping federal employees receive the legal relief they deserve in workplace matters. Call (800) 801-0598 or contact us online anytime to receive the counsel you deserve.

A Brief Background on Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood shifts in those with the disorder. The disorder affects millions of people in the U.S. and can cause setbacks at work.

Individuals with bipolar disorder often experience “manic” episodes followed by “depressive” episodes (and vice versa), and these episodes can interfere with the ability to carry out tasks at work. 

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Jumpiness,
  • Sadness,
  • Indecisiveness,
  • Difficulty concentrating,
  • Restlessness,
  • Jumbled or racing thoughts,
  • Bouts of low energy,
  • Sleeping too much,
  • Forgetfulness,
  • Intense feelings of happiness or euphoria,
  • Increased agitation,
  • Suicidal thoughts, and
  • Insomnia.

You can quickly see that many symptoms of bipolar disorder could disrupt anyone’s workday. Those who experience job disruptions because of their bipolar disorder or another disability don’t have to power through each day without help. Employees affected by symptoms can ask their bosses for accommodations.

Is Bipolar Disorder a Disability Under the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act) safeguard federal employees with disabilities. These laws provide protection against disability-related discrimination. These laws also require employers to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities. And bipolar disorder can qualify as a disability under the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA. 

The ADA defines someone with a disability as:

  • Someone with a mental or physical impairment that limits at least one major life activity,
  • Someone with a history of a mental or physical impairment that limits at least one major life activity, or 
  • Someone who is perceived as having a mental or physical impairment that limits at least one major life activity. 

If your bipolar disorder has stifled your ability to complete any major life activity, you likely have a right to be accommodated in your workplace.

Major life activities under the ADA include:

  • Speaking,
  • Learning,
  • Concentrating,
  • Walking,
  • Standing,
  • Communicating,
  • Working,
  • Breathing,
  • Bending,
  • Lifting, 
  • Sleeping,
  • Hearing,
  • Reading,
  • Seeing,
  • Eating,
  • Thinking, and
  • Performing bodily functions.

Now could be a good time to review how your bipolar disorder affects any of the above functions or activities. And you may want to review all of the tasks that you must complete at work to see where your bipolar disorder affects your work life.

This review can help you identify the accommodations you need. There are several bipolar disorder reasonable accommodations that could make your work obligations more manageable when your condition makes tasks difficult. 

Bipolar Disorder Work Accommodations

An employee who is qualified to do their job but has a disability that interrupts their capacity to complete certain job tasks should be reasonably accommodated at work. A reasonable accommodation is a modification to an employee’s job, schedule, or workspace.

And the purpose of an accommodation is to give an employee an equal opportunity to perform their job. Prospective employees with disabilities can also receive reasonable accommodations to the job application or interview process to have an equal opportunity to obtain a position. 

An accommodation is reasonable unless it is significantly costly or difficult for the employer to implement, such as an undue hardship. Now that we know the purpose of reasonable accommodations, we can go over reasonable accommodations for bipolar disorder in the workplace.  

Examples of Workplace Accommodations for Bipolar Disorder

When you need a reasonable accommodation to deal with symptoms of bipolar disorder at work (or in the application process), you must request accommodation from your employer. You might also need to provide medical documentation of your condition.

After you make your request, you and your employer must engage in interactive communication to determine your accommodations. This interactive process is an ongoing dialogue, and bringing your own suggestions for accommodations can move the process along. 

Examples of reasonable accommodations for bipolar disorder can include:

  • Alternative lighting in the workspace,
  • Flexible scheduling,
  • Job coaching,
  • A support animal,
  • Color-coded systems for time management,
  • Organization apps,
  • Job restructuring,
  • An aide or assistant,
  • A modified break schedule,
  • Changes in communication styles from management or coworkers,
  • Counseling,
  • Noise-canceling headsets,
  • An enclosed workspace,
  • Extra training time,
  • Policy changes,
  • Sound machines,
  • Counting or measuring aids,
  • Fidget devices,
  • Task separation,
  • Written instructions, and
  • Telework.

If you are unsure of the type of accommodation you need, you may want to speak to a healthcare professional and a seasoned attorney from our firm. And if your employer denies your request, you can ask for reconsideration from someone higher up in management.

A healthcare professional can review your condition and workplace struggles and advise you about what modifications could relieve your symptoms. And our knowledgeable attorneys can put you in contact with the appropriate healthcare professionals and effectively argue for you to receive accommodations at work. 

We Can Provide the Legal and Professional Support You Need

Your employer may be in a position of power at your workplace, but they cannot disrespect your rights. Your rights include the right to receive reasonable accommodations when you have bipolar disorder or any other disability.

If you know your symptoms from bipolar disorder need to be accommodated in an employment setting but you don’t know where to start, give us a call. We can guide you through the entire process.

At Pines Federal, our seasoned employment lawyers have over 60 years of combined experience. We have received top accolades from the legal community, and we receive top reviews from our clients. We have also won large awards and significant relief for multiple federal employees who faced unfair treatment at work.

If you need an advocate who cares deeply about the outcome of your case and knows how to get the best results, please call us at (800) 801-0598 or fill out our online form today.