Accommodating Anxiety, Workplace Stress and PTSD Under the ADA

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Learn how to properly respond to accommodation requests for anxiety, workplace stress, and PTSD under the ADA.Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 or older or 18.1% of the population every year (Anxiety and Depression Assn. of America). 7.8% of Americans will experience PTSD in their lives and about 30% of men and women spending time in war zones experience PTSD (Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs). Some 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17 (Health and Safety Executive), and 50% of employees in one survey said that stress and anxiety impacts the quality of their work (Anxiety and Depression Assn. of America). Given such data, it is not a surprise that employers large and small, for-profit and not-for-profit are now frequently confronted with issues, accommodation requests and claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) relating to workplace stress, anxiety disorders, PTSD and related conditions. Grappling with such issues can be difficult and costly. Employers must be able to assess whether applicants and employees with such conditions are qualified to perform the essential functions of a position. They need to know how properly to respond to requests for reasonable accommodations, when and what medical information may be requested, and when a direct threat or other safety risk may be presented.


Accommodating Anxiety, Workplace Stress and PTSD Under the ADA

• The Prevalence of Anxiety, Stress and PTSD Issues Confronting Employers

• The Costs and Risks to Employers From Employees Presenting With Anxiety, Stress and PTSD

• EEOC Disability Charge and Litigation Activity

• When Are Anxiety, Workplace Stress and PTSD Protected Under the ADA?

• Must an Applicant or Employee Produce Medical Documentation of Their Anxiety, Stress or PTSD?

The Courts and Anxiety, Stress, PTSD and Related Conditions

• ADA Case Studies of Anxiety, Stress and PTSD and Lessons Learned

Qualifications and Stress Disorders

• Assessing Whether an Applicant or Employee With a Stress Disorder Is Qualified

• Assessing Whether an Employee With a Stress Disorder Continues to Be Qualified for Her Position

• When May an Employer Require an Employee With a Stress Disorder to Undergo a Fitness for Duty Examination?

• Assessing When the Direct Threat Defense May Apply to an Employee or Applicant With a Stress Disorder and Employer Safety Concerns

Succeeding in the Interaction Process

• How Is the Interactive Process Triggered?

• What Must an Employer Do in the Interactive Process With an Employee With a Stress Disorder?

• When May an Employer Lawfully Request Documentation of the Need for an Accommodation?

• Determining If There Is a Reasonable Accommodation or If Any Accommodation Would Be an Undue Hardship

• What Are Some Potential Reasonable Accommodations for Stress Disorders?

• Is the Interactive Process a Continuing Duty?

Proactive Steps for Employers

• Create Up-To-Date Job Descriptions Capturing All Essential Functions

• Train Supervisors to Recognize Accommodation Requests and How to Manage Employees With Stress Disorders

• Knowing When and How to Refer Employees to an EAP

• Recognize the Potential ADA-FMLA Interaction for Employees With Stress Disorders

• Emphasize the Need for Documentation of the Interactive Process and of Any Performance Issues for Employees With Stress Disorders

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