Yes, you can get reasonable accommodations in your workplace for your mental health needs. This right is guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you for having a mental health condition, and denying you reasonable accommodations in the workplace is a form of employment discrimination.
Determining how to alter a workspace to accommodate mental health needs is not always as obvious as altering a workspace for physical needs. Your doctor or mental healthcare professional can make recommendations for appropriate accommodations, and your employment lawyer can help you pursue them.
Changing the Workplace Environment
Sometimes, the accommodation you need is a change to your workspace. You might need a workspace with minimal sound, light, or distractions in order to accomplish your work tasks. This could mean moving your desk to a more private area of the office or having your employer provide you with noise-canceling headphones. If you need natural light or full spectrum lighting, you can request that you be moved closer to a window or that full spectrum lighting be installed in your workspace.
Altering Your Schedule to Accommodate Your Needs
Many mental health conditions cause the people living with them to become fatigued, overwhelmed, or need counseling. Altering a work schedule around these needs can be an appropriate accommodation. Examples include:
- Permitting an employee to telecommute part time;
- Permitting the employee to work a flexible schedule or if his or her condition requires it, a specific, consistent schedule;
- Modifying the employee’s break schedule; and
- Moving the employee to a shift that fits his or her needs better.
Adapting Instructions and Organization Techniques
Individuals with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder can become much more productive with minor tweaks to how they receive instructions from supervisors and organize their workspaces. A few examples of accommodations that can help employees with these conditions are:
- Breaking large tasks into smaller ones;
- Providing written instructions;
- Giving the employee a checklist for his or her tasks
- Color coding tasks or using another organizational system to make prioritizing and completing tasks easier; and
- Permitting the employee to record meetings to refer to at a later time.
Communicate Your Needs to Your Employer
You cannot get accommodations if you do not voice them to your employer. Do not be shy about asking for the accommodations you need – you have the right to them, and the workplace challenges that are part of living with autism, PTSD, depression, anxiety, OCD, or seasonal affective disorder are nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of.
Work with an Experienced Employment Lawyer
You always have the right to request reasonable accommodations for your health needs at work. To learn more about your reasonable accommodation rights and how you can pursue the accommodations you need, speak with one of the experienced employment lawyers on our team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. Contact our office today to set up your initial consultation in our office.