Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

WHAT IS POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a term for the severe psychological consequences of exposure to stressful events that the sufferer experiences as highly traumatic. Such events usually involve actual or threatened death, severe physical injury, or a threat to physical or psychological integrity. As a result, the sufferer is often incapable of coping with the trauma. Whether or not a PTSD response develops is influenced by the intensity of the event, its duration, and the individual involved. Most people who experience a traumatic event will not suffer from PTSD. However, individuals who do develop PTSD often experience nightmares, detachment, flashbacks, anxiety, and insomnia.

Typical treatment for PTSD often includes "critical incident stress management." This treatment often works best shortly after the incident, and it helps to reduce PTSD. Potentially, it can reduce a full blown incidence of PTSD by reducing the harmful effects of the stressful incident. The most common form of PTSD treatment, however, includes a combination of psychotherapy and psychotropic medication.

WAYS IN WHICH YOU MIGHT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BECAUSE OF POST TRAUMATIC STRESS 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 allow you to attend psychotherapy sessions to combat your PTSD

HOW THE LAW PROTECTS YOU IF YOU HAVE POST TRAUMATIC STRESS 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. Post traumatic stress 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 post traumatic stress disorder. The employer also has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with post traumatic stress 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 PTSD might need to attend psychotherapy sessions in order to alleviate the affects of the disorder. An employer has an obligation to accommodate the employee accordingly, unless doing so would unduly burden the employer.

Further Information