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Is Anxiety a Disability at Work?

February 22nd, 2024
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As an employee in Philadelphia, it is crucial to understand your rights and protections under the law. One of these rights pertains to mental health conditions, such as anxiety, and their classification as disabilities. This article will discuss if anxiety can be considered a disability at work.

Understanding Anxiety as a Disability

Anxiety is a mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It involves excessive worry or fear, which can interfere with daily activities, including work. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace. Under the ADA, a disability is a physical or mental impairment substantially limiting one or more major life activities.

Anxiety can indeed be classified as a disability under the ADA if it significantly impairs your ability to perform major life activities. However, not all cases of anxiety meet this criterion.

For anxiety to be deemed a disability under the ADA, it must be more than fleeting or episodic. The anxiety experienced needs to be pervasive and persistent over an extended period, tangibly affecting one’s capacity to function in everyday scenarios. Documentation from a qualified healthcare provider is typically required to substantiate the severe impact of anxiety on your life. This evidence should demonstrate how anxiety limits activities like concentrating, interacting with others, or even leaving the house—essential for the average person’s daily living.

Legal Rights and Protections for Employees With Anxiety

If your anxiety meets the ADA’s definition of a disability, you are entitled to certain protections. These include reasonable accommodations that help you perform your job duties effectively.

Workplace accommodations for those with anxiety are designed to facilitate a productive work environment while managing the symptoms of the condition. It is important to approach this matter with a problem-solving mindset to identify the most effective strategies. Common accommodations include the following:

  • Flexible work schedules: Employees may benefit from adjustments to their start or end times or the ability to work from home on certain days to help manage anxiety symptoms.
  • Quiet workspaces: Providing an option for a more peaceful, private workspace can reduce external stressors exacerbating anxiety.
  • Periodic rest breaks: Allowing employees to take short breaks during the workday can be crucial to managing anxiety levels and ensuring sustained productivity.
  • Clear and written instructions: For those with anxiety, especially when it involves concentration difficulties, providing written instructions can help them understand and manage work tasks more effectively.
  • Support services: Access to counseling services, support groups, or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can offer professional support for managing anxiety.

Employers are legally bound to provide these accommodations unless they cause undue hardship to the business. They are also prohibited from discriminating against you based on your disability. If you believe you have been subjected to such discrimination, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Our Philadelphia Disability Discrimination Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Will Help You Understand Your Rights

Understanding your rights and protections under the ADA can be complex. If you believe you have been discriminated against due to your anxiety, it is advisable to seek legal counsel. Speak with our Philadelphia disability discrimination lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, Montgomery County, and Cherry Hill.

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