Most corporations and businesses are unsympathetic to the plight of adult survivors of child abuse and neglect. Unlike a physical disability where an employee will usually get an accommodation (e.g., someone needs brighter lights over their desk due to severe eye problems), a survivor who presents that they have a mental disability (e.g., a person diagnosed with PTSD) will most likely lose their job and their benefits. I know because that is exactly what happened to me.
After explaining to my manager that I had PTSD, she looked at me and said, “I have no empathy and very little sympathy. This is a business. You are no different than someone who has had a heart attack.” I replied, “But I am. I have a mental disability.” That fell on deaf ears.
What was my reasonable request? I said, “Please tell me what you want, when you want it, and then let me do my work.” She ignored my request. Instead, she kept standing over me drumming her fingers on my desk asking, “Where’s this? Where’s that?” You can imagine how this exacerbated my PTSD symptoms.
I was fired after working 28 years – two years from retirement – with no severance pay or benefits even though I had an outstanding performance appraisal! I filed a lawsuit in federal court, and we settled out of court.
The mental health sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) need to be strengthened to provide the protections survivors deserve. Reasonable accommodations are necessary to assist survivors in the workforce, and they are spelled out already for employees with physical disabilitites. Unfortunately, until these accomodations for psychological disorders are addressed legislatively, many survivors will continue to lose their jobs.