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Federal Employment Law

Once called “shell shock” or “battle fatigue” because of its association with the trauma of military combat, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has emerged as a growing mental health issue across the country.

Statistics from the National Institutes of Health suggest that almost 4% of the U.S. adult population grappled with PTSD within the last year.

Characterized by recurring nightmares, flashbacks, and an aversion to certain stimuli, PTSD is not merely a psychological abstract. It’s a tangible disruptor of everyday functionality.

The good news for federal employees with PTSD is that they have a right to reasonable accommodation through the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In this piece, we’ll unpack PTSD’s status under the Rehab Act and the ADA. We’ll also discuss PTSD reasonable accommodation examples.

Contact our outstanding federal Equal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reasonable accommodations lawyers to receive personalized legal advice. 

Is PTSD an ADA Disability?

“Is PTSD covered under the ADA” is probably your first question when it comes to this issue. It is undoubtedly the most common question we receive on this topic. The short answer is almost always yes. 

Fully understanding this answer requires us to delve into the history of reasonable accommodation.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the first law to obligate federal agencies to provide reasonable accommodation. However, there was some ambiguity on what constitutes a disability.

While the ADA extended the rights to reasonable accommodation to private-sector employees, the controversy over the definition of a “disability” continued.

Finally, Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) to expand the definition of disability and create a universally inclusive work environment.

The ADAAA’s position is clear: any impairment that substantially impacting one or more major life activities warrants disability status.

Given that major life activities include activities like working, thinking, and interacting with others, PTSD is undoubtedly a disability. 

PTSD Reasonable Accommodation Examples

Federal employees with PTSD have ample flexibility when it comes to requesting a reasonable accommodation. Ultimately, the best accommodation for you depends on your position’s core duties and specific symptoms.

That said, here are a few PTSD reasonable accommodations:

  •  Teleworking. The advent of teleworking offers a compelling accommodation to many sufferers, especially if you have heightened anxiety and flashbacks in conventional office settings. Teleworking simultaneously allows you to focus in a low-stress environment while completing critical work tasks.
  • Breaks and support systems. Regular breaks can offer respite during moments of heightened stress, offering critical relief from PTSD. Allowing time for an employee with PTSD to engage with support systems (like access to mental health professionals or peer support groups) can improve the employee’s holistic well-being. 
  • Workplace adjustments. Environmental adjustments can lead to a massive drop in the likelihood that an employee will suffer a PTSD attack. Altering lighting, installing soundproofing, or providing private workspaces are reliable solutions. 

Curious to learn whether another kind of accommodation is possible for you? An experienced federal employment attorney can assist. 

Requesting an Accommodation for PTSD: Simplicity in Action

Submitting a reasonable accommodation request is refreshingly simple compared to other legal processes.

All you have to do is make a simple statement that you need accommodation because of a mental or physical condition. A request could be something such as communicating that you need to work from home because of your PTSD symptoms.

Once you share your need for an accommodation, you trigger an interactive process involving you and your employer.

Both sides collaborate to find an ideal accommodation that meets your needs while not presenting an undue burden to your employer.   

Are There Complex PTSD Accommodations?

Yes. Many of the accommodations we mentioned earlier also suffice for complex PTSD (CPTSD). However, they’re not the only ones.

Employees can request any accommodation that allows them to perform their job duties and is not an undue burden for their employer. 

Start Your Reasonable Accommodation Journey with the Best Legal Team

A qualified group of attorneys can help you transform your reasonable accommodation ideas into reality.

Fortunately, our attorneys at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, are ready and willing to partner with you. 

When you work with us, we’ll help you submit your request and articulate your ideal accommodations. We can also interface with your healthcare team to collect compelling medical evidence.

Then, we negotiate with your agency’s human resources or reasonable accommodation team. We’ll even initiate legal action to get you the reasonable accommodation you deserve. 

Don’t wait. Start your journey towards a better work-life by calling us today or contacting us online.

Author Photo

Aaron Wersing, Attorney at Law

Aaron Wersing is the founder of the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing. Mr. Wersing graduated from the Georgia State University College of Law with a Doctorate in Jurisprudence and was the recipient of the CALI Excellence for the Future Award. Mr. Wersing previously attended the University of Georgia, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting. Mr. Wersing is an active member of his local community. Mr. Wersing acts as a volunteer attorney with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the pro bono legal aid organization of the Houston Bar Association. He is also a member of professional legal organizations such as the National Employment Lawyers Association and the American Inns of Court. To reach Aaron for a consultation, please call him at (833) 833-3529.

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