WHAT IS PANIC DISORDER?
Panic disorder is a psychiatric mental condition that causes the sufferer to experience intense and often sporadic but reoccurring panic attacks. People who suffer from panic disorders usually have series of panic attacks, which are intense episodes of extreme anxiety. These attacks may last anywhere from several minutes to several hours, varying in intensity and symptoms. The outward symptoms of a panic attacks often cause negative social experiences, such as embarrassment.
While panic disorder can be extremely disabling, it can generally be controlled. Treatment will usually include some sort of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication, often paired with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Other frequently recommended treatment includes journaling and both stress and time management classes.
WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF PANIC DISORDER
- Your employer does not allow you to miss work for medical appointments
- Your employer does not accommodate your need to take a reasonable amount of time off of work
- Your employer will not provide reasonable on-site accommodations for your disability
- Your employer does not accommodate your need to attend counseling or psychotherapy sessions
HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE PANIC DISORDER
To state a cause of action for disability discrimination, an employee must be disabled, regarded as disabled, or have a record of being disabled. The employee must then show that:
- his or her disability results in physical limitations
- that he or she can still perform the essential functions of the job (with or without reasonable accommodations)
- and that the employer took some adverse action (such as not hiring, firing, or demoting the employee) on the basis of that disability
Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act provide protection against disability discrimination for individuals with mental disabilities. Panic disorder is such a disability, deserving of protection from discrimination. Accordingly, an employer may not take any adverse action against an employee because of the employee's panic disorder. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with panic disorder so as to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. The law will protect an employee whose employer does not provide these necessary accommodations. For example, an individual with panic disorder might need to attend counseling, psychotherapy, or time management classes. An employer has an obligation to so accommodate an employee, unless doing so would unduly burden the employer.
- For Legal Help see Finding an Attorney and David H. Greenberg, California Employment Law Attorney.