Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious and common disability in the United States and globally.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), about 6% of Americans will struggle with PTSD. And the effects of PTSD can be devastating. Victims are stuck reliving the event through nightmares and flashbacks.
They also struggle to avoid “triggers” and overcome negative thoughts and feelings.
Fortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides legal protections and workplace accommodations for PTSD.
There are a variety of reasonable accommodations for people living with PTSD working in the federal sector.
We’ll review the basics surrounding PTSD accommodations in this piece. If you want more specific legal advice, consult our federal EEOC reasonable accommodations lawyers.
Is PTSD a Disability?
Yes. Originally, there was some controversy over whether PTSD and other mental conditions were disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) changed everything.
The ADAAA broadened the definition of “disability” in the ADA to incorporate a wide variety of conditions. The ADAAA states that any medical or physical impairment that affects a major life activity constitutes a disability.
Major life activities include sleeping, dressing oneself, working, thinking, eating, walking, and interacting with others. Because PTSD affects many major life activities, it undoubtedly qualifies.
Is PTSD Covered Under the ADA?
Yes, it is. Thanks to the ADAAA, federal employers have to process reasonable accommodation requests from employees. The reasonable accommodation process begins when you make a request for reasonable accommodation.
You do not have to use any magic legal phrases or mention the ADA to make a reasonable accommodation request. Instead, you can use “plain English” by telling your supervisor about your difficulties.
For instance, if you told your supervisor, “I need to work from home because this office is worsening my PTSD,” that would constitute a valid request.
Once you make the request for reasonable accommodation, you can engage in an interactive discussion with your employer.
The law requires that your employer grant you any reasonable accommodation that you need to perform the core duties of your position.
Your employer may refuse accommodation only if it is an undue burden. However, your employer does not have to provide you with your requested accommodation.
PTSD Reasonable Accommodation Examples
Federal employees with PTSD can receive a variety of work accommodations.
Just a few examples of reasonable accommodations for PTSD employees include:
- Flexible scheduling. By giving you more flexibility with your schedule, you can more easily attend counseling sessions and therapeutic appointments.
- Occasional work breaks. Stress plays a major role in triggering PTSD attacks. With occasional work breaks, you can reduce the chances of an attack or take steps to deal with PTSD symptoms that arise.
- Changes to your work conditions. Specific examples include changing office lighting, installing soundproof barriers, and allowing you to keep your office door closed.
- Allowing you to bring your service animal to work. This option can be tricky in certain office conditions, so it is especially important to have an attorney represent you if you are requesting a service animal.
- Telework. By allowing you to perform your duties in a safe and familiar environment, telework can work wonders in helping you manage PTSD.
These are just a few examples of PTSD reasonable accommodations. Contact a qualified federal reasonable accommodation lawyer to learn more.
Curious to Learn More About PTSD Reasonable Accommodations for Federal Employees? Pines Federal Can Help
Thanks to the ADA, people living with PTSD have many different reasonable accommodation options. Yet employers are sometimes too prejudiced by old stigmas to provide you with the rights you deserve.
Other times, your agency may be too small or too inexperienced with the latest legal updates to provide you with the accommodation you need.
So if you’re a federal employee with PTSD who requires reasonable accommodation, get legal help today.
At Pines Federal, our attorneys have both experience and dedication. We want all federal employees to enjoy all their rights under the law.
It’s also vital to us that federal employees with PTSD be able to work without fear of anxiety attacks and flashbacks. Because of our passion, our attorneys have spent decades representing federal employees.
And thanks to our efforts, countless clients have been able to exercise their rights. Let us make the reasonable accommodation process easier and more effective.