Post-traumatic stress disorder should not be taken lightly. This mental health issue can be debilitating for you. If you want to continue to work and support you and your family, your employer cannot stop you. The law protects you from discrimination due to PTSD.
Of course, your employer does not have to keep you on if you present a danger to yourself and others, but those dangers must present a substantial risk of significant harm in order to be a valid reason for terminating you. Your employer cannot make that assessment based on stereotypes or myths about PTSD. In fact, if you can perform your job duties with reasonable accommodation, your employer cannot discriminate against you in any way.
What constitutes a reasonable accommodation for PTSD?
In some ways, that depends on what you need. If you need alterations to your schedule to attend medical or mental health appointments, it could be an accommodation. Other reasonable accommodations could include something such as the following:
- The ability to work from home
- Modified work assignments
- Supervisory modifications
- A quiet space to work
- A device that provides you with a workspace free from outside noises and movements
Many people only have PTSD to a point where it substantially limits their ability to function for a temporary period. This does not negate your right to reasonable accommodations during your recovery period. You only need to show that your "normal" working conditions make it impossible for you to work. If the accommodations are reasonable and do not place an undue hardship on your employer, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission require the company to make the necessary adjustments.
Starting the process
You only need to request an accommodation to begin the process. Your company may have a policy regarding making such requests. If so, you should follow it. If one does not exist, then you should start with your supervisor or someone in human resources. The company may require you to provide proof of your condition and some sort of documentation indicating that you need a reasonable accommodation to work.
This is one of the only times when your employer may request that you divulge information regarding your condition. It may be a good idea to document everything as you go through this process in case you need to take legal action at a later time.