Example of a case where employee was terminated after requesting a reasonable accommodation for his PTSD disability
Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees who request such accommodations. A “reasonable accommodation” is when an employer modifies the job duties, provides some extra help, or takes some other measure to ensure that an employee can still do his or her job. Whether a particular accommodation is reasonable must be determined on a case by case basis. Sometimes an employer denies or refuses to provide the accommodations that an employee asks for. The Maine Employee Rights Group handles cases on behalf of disabled employees who are eager to work, but are unable to do so because they have been denied a reasonable accommodation by their employer.
Our attorneys recently represented a worker who was terminated from his position after requesting some time off to deal with his PTSD symptoms. Our client had returned from active duty, where he had engaged in combat, to an office where his co-workers repeatedly asked questions about his experiences in war. These questions triggered our client’s PTSD symptoms, including stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep. Our client approached his supervisor and asked that his co-workers stop asking questions about his active duty and deployment. He also asked his supervisor for the afternoon off in order to deal with his PTSD symptoms. His supervisor refused to grant him the much needed respite from work. Instead, our client’s supervisor suggested that he take a nap in a vacant office. This suggestion did not provide the relief that our client sought in order to deal with his disability. When our client explained that this suggestion was not helpful and that what he needed was to leave the office, our client’s supervisor threatened to fire our client if he left. Our client needed to leave the office in order to deal with his health issues and as a result was forced to terminate his position.
The attorneys at the Maine Employee Rights Group assisted our client in filing a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission. Our experienced attorneys argued that our client’s request to leave the office and for time off due to the symptoms of his PTSD constituted requests for reasonable accommodations under the MHRA and ADA. We also argued that our client was qualified and capable to perform his job duties and could have continued to work had his reasonable accommodations been granted. When the MHRC did not issue a decision within 180 days, we pulled the case and received a right to sue letter. Shortly after receiving this letter, the employer requested that the case be mediated. At mediation, our attorneys were able to negotiate with the employer to obtain a favorable and generous settlement agreement. Our client was happy with his decision to pursue the case and to stand up for his rights.
If you or someone you know has been discriminated against based on a disability or perceived disability, or if you are a disabled employee and have been denied what you believe to be a reasonable accommodation, please do not hesitate to call the Maine Employee Rights Group today at 207.874.0905.