Anxiety, Workplace Stress, and PTSD in California: HR’s Legal and Practical Accommodation and Performance Management Roadmap

About This Course:
If an employee claims excess stress and requests a reasonable accommodation, does the employer have to grant the request?

Recently, a California employee, who had been diagnosed with adjustment disorder with anxiety, claimed that HR and her manager were stressing her out. She took protected leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

When she returned she got a negative performance evaluation. She claimed that her supervisor had it out for her and as a result she suffered a panic attack. She took another leave of absence and asked to be indefinitely transferred to another department.

Her employer asked for medical documentation on whether she could return to work, which stated that she couldn’t work for a particular supervisor and that was the limitation of her major life activity. She was then fired, and she sued.

How would you have responded? When is generalized “anxiety” a protected disability under FEHA/ADA? What types of accommodations should you be prepared to make to ensure compliance with your state and federal legal obligations? And why are California employers facing a rising tide of disability discrimination lawsuits based on mental disorders?

Join us for an all-new webinar that explains your legal obligations concerning stressed out, anxious workers who may be suffering due to ancillary mental conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. Our presenter, a skilled California-based employment attorney, will teach you how to master the practical challenges that arise in workplaces every day concerning time off, requests for accommodation, and other issues when employees are stressed out or in a panicked state.

Learning Objectives
  • When generalized “anxiety” may fall within the definition of disability as a protected mental condition under California’s FEHA and the federal ADA,and when it won’t
  • How to distinguish between generalized anxiety and “panic attacks,” without overstepping medical privacy standards, and why the distinction matters.
  • What you legally can and can’t request from an employee who claims disability protection under state and federal law
  • What do to when your California employee says workplace stress is behind performance, conduct, or attendance issues
  • The practical impact of a recent California ruling on obligations to accommodate stressed out employees’ transfer requests
  • Limitations employees with anxiety disorder may experience
  • Types of workplace accommodations a healthcare provider may recommend for someone undergoing treatment for anxiety or other mental conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • How to handle claims by an employee that non-industrial PTSD, from military service or other life experiences, is interfering with his/her ability to perform essential job functions
  • What to do when an employee claims that she/he is suffering from PTSD due to incidents of employment or extremely stressful work environment.
  • What to do if an employee has a panic attack while at work or claims the reason s/he can’t report to work is because of panic attacks
  • When a requested accommodation for anxiety disorder or PTSD may be considered an undue hardship
  • How FMLA/CFRA impacts employees with anxiety disorder or PTSD and those caring for family members with this or a similar diagnosis
  • How to prepare for and properly address accommodation requests that are unique to anxiety disorder and PTSD, including the “need” for the employee to bring a therapy or companion animals, or psychiatric service dogs to work.
  • When anxiety disorder or panic attacks are considered a serious health condition entitling an employee to block, intermittent, or reduced schedule leave under FMLA/CFRA
  • How to deal with performance issues and safety concerns when an employee is on treatment medication
  • Practical steps employers can take to help anxious employees manage their workloads, meet deadlines, reduce stress, and boost performance
  • The indicators that employees with mood disorders and other mental conditions may need accommodations
  • Tips for helping employees perform when fatigue, concentration, short term memory, or cognitive functioning is impacted
  • How to engage in the interactive dialogue with someone who’s protected under ADA/FEHA as a result of an anxiety-based mental disability and implement reasonable accommodations
About Your Presenter

Patricia S. Eyres, Esq.
Managing Partner
Eyres Law Group, LLP

Patricia S. Eyres, Esq., the managing partner of Eyres Law Group, LLP, focuses on helping employers manage disability discrimination issues for both workers’ comp and non-occupational disabilities. As president of Litigation Management & Training Services and CEO/Publisher of Proactive Law Press, LLC, Eyres trains managers and supervisors on how to recognize risks, prevent lawsuits, and maintain defensible documentation.
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