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ADA Accommodation PTSD Overlooked?

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arkera

Member
CA

I have a situation at work where a coworker is constantly harassing me. Talking behind my back, spreading vicious rumors, accusing me of everything in the book, dismantling my integrity from every angle (from "she's not doing her job," to "she's sleeping with the boss"). It's been over a year, and I have tried to ignore, talk to her, talk to her immediate supervisor, talk to our boss... all to no avail.

I have severe chronic PTSD. I was brutalized as a child, and these constant attacks are sending me into a spiral of depression, jumpiness, shaking, nausea, migraines, general misery. I have expressed this to my boss as he's noticed I've "shut down" and to protect myself from negative performance evaluations ("doesn't play well with others" type comments), and to try to remedy the situation, I have filed an ADA Accommodation Request as of the 20th. I asked for several things:

I would like to make several requests, which I hope you will consider either now or future, for short- or long-term use, as I recognize that this is an organic and changeable situation:
* Possibility of modifying my work hours to something partially outside of normal business hours, and/or time to work from home
* Limited in-person contact with triggering coworker [Person], in favor of written communication
* Sensitivity training for [Person] as it relates to PTSD and/or workplace abuse
* [Person's] toxic behavior formally addressed and documented, in this event that it continues with me or others


My boss has received my letter, and a grievance against the person in question. He has informed me that he is handling the grievance "informally" and that he cannot accommodate any of my requests, except for the potential of signing us all up for harassment training.

So nothing is going to change.

Today, as part of his informal approach, he got me and the person in question into a room to talk it out. She said basically nothing, and boss awkwardly tried to get us to open up, share our feelings, rekindle a friendship, darn near braid each other's hair. He wants me to share my PTSD history with her so that she can explode with empathy and set aside her awful behavior in light of my painful past. That's a hard no from me.

I was in so much pain after two and a half hours of this (my fight or flight resulted in tensed muscles, shaking, vomiting after I got out of the meeting), I don't even know what to do. I don't think he understood a word of my ADA Request.

I am not a snowflake. I am not a porcelain doll. I am tough as nails, have been through some difficult and terrible situations, and I can take an enormous amount of crap. But normal people do not behave this way, and I've done everything I can to mitigate my now-meltdown.

What do I do?
 


PayrollHRGuy

Senior Member
I don't think there is a work comp issue here.

There may be an ADA issue but I doubt it. So I would either talk to EEOC/ADA lawyer or file an ADA claim.
 

arkera

Member
Have you seen a doctor?
I've been in therapy on and off my whole life... currently I'm on. I'm taking two prescribed anti-depressants which are probably the only reason I haven't burned my bridges and found a hole to hide in.

As part of my ADA Request letter, I attached my initial assessment which is the original document that diagnosed me as chronic PTSD, and in the recommendations, it said therapy at all these milestones, including issues like this.

I reached out to that original doctor, and to my surprise she's still practicing! She is willing to talk to my boss about my diagnosis and how it would relate to my working environment. It's been 9 days, and he hasn't called... says "that's probably not necessary..."
 

quincy

Senior Member
Thanks for answering my question.

You should take a look at the information provided in the link posted earlier.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I don't think there is a work comp issue here.

There may be an ADA issue but I doubt it. So I would either talk to EEOC/ADA lawyer or file an ADA claim.
This is a California matter...
If the current work situation is exacerbating her PTSD, it could very well be a work comp issue...particulary in California.
 

arkera

Member
How far am I obligated to explain myself to my boss? He claims he himself suffers from PTSD (but then, everyone who stubs their toe seems to say the same thing), but he took me aside after the try to make friends meeting that I looked like the situation was worse and he doesn't understand.

How many times to I have to describe PTSD in general, how it's specifically effecting me, and why I am an absolute mess after that horrible meeting when on the surface "it went well" according to his perception?

I've described EXACTLY what happened to me, I've described how it's popped up in my life over and over, I described how I feel about this person, I've described my physical and visceral reactions... He says he doesn't want me "holding on to the past" and "reacting based on memories" and to just put a period and move on fresh and new.

Have I met the minimum I need to do yet? I feel like my ADA letter should have been more than enough. Am I wrong?
 

quincy

Senior Member
Your letter should have led him to a better understanding.

You took the first necessary step by going to your employer with your concern. Your employer took the first step he needed to take by addressing the matter with the employee who is causing you grief.

If nothing else has changed, however, then where you take it from here is up to you.

Good luck.
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
Technically, you should be talking about your need for an accommodation to HR, not your boss.

As for whether your original letter "should have been enough" what accommodation are you asking for?
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
There will be someone who is responsible for HR functions, even if there is not a department per se.
 

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