What workplace accommodations can I ask of my employer after sustaining a brain injury?
Traumatic brain injuries might affect your ability to perform your job at the same level as before your accident. You might have difficulty focusing, you might have photosensitivity, you might be more fatigued and require more breaks, or you might require more or different communication.
Continue reading to learn more about the accommodations you can request from your employer. If you have questions, or if you believe your employer isn’t following the law regarding disabled employees, call Ernst Law Group at (805) 541-0300.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Brain Injuries
Qualifying for Accommodation Under the ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) uses a legal definition of “disability,” which may differ from the definition used by other agencies. Under the ADA, a person has a disability if:
- They have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity, or
- If they do not currently have a disability but have a record of such impairment, or
- Doesn’t have a disability but is regarded as having a disability
The ADA provides protection to employees when the employer has more than 15 employees. These protections require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees if the employee can perform the basic functions of the job.
These “reasonable accommodations” are changes to accommodate an employee who has a disability without too much difficulty or expense to the employer.
Accommodations can include measures to help a person with brain injury to function in their job, including:
- Assistive technology
- Auxiliary aids and services
- Behavioral modifications
- Natural supports
- Neurological modifications
- Environmental changes
Accommodations for Physical Limitations
A TBI may result in physical limitations such as inability or limited ability to walk or traverse stairs or uneven ground.
Some examples of accommodations to assist with physical limitations include:
- Installing ramps and handrails
- Providing accessible and/or closer parking spaces
- Installing lever-style door handles
- Clearing frequent pathways of travel of any unnecessary equipment, furniture, or obstacle
- Make the employee’s office accessible, even if it requires moving their office or work station
- Allow a mixed work environment such working remote on certain days or for part of the day which might make getting to work easier during high-commute times
Accommodations for Mental Changes
A brain injury commonly results in mental changes or limitations including inability to focus, difficulty staying organized, maintaining stamina throughout the day and neurological changes or needs. Any accomodation for these types of issues will be unique to your needs, but they may include those outlined below.
Maintaining Stamina, Focus, and Concentration
- Flexible scheduling, including allowing longer or more frequent breaks or part-time work
- Reduce clutter in the work area
- Using white noise or sound machines or noise canceling headphones
- Divide large assignments into smaller tasks
- Increase natural lighting
- Use flow charts or diagrams of problem solving techniques
Staying Organized and Meeting Deadlines
- Use electronic organizers or special calendars for deadlines
- Utilize to-do lists
- Schedule frequent check-in meetings with supervisors to determine if goals are being met
- Use memos or emails as reminders of deadlines and important tasks
- Utilize sticky notes or a color-coded filing system for tasks based on importance
- Assign a mentor to the employee to provide assistance when they’re struggling
- Increase communication and write down instructions and tasks for easy reference
- Allow additional training time
- Use glare-resistant computer monitors
- Provide aides or job coaches to the employee
- Tape record meetings to allow playback and easy reference
- Utilize assistive applications based on the employee’s needs
Accommodations for Emotional Needs
A person who suffered a TBI might become frustrated with their inability to perform as they previously did and might become stressed more easily, resulting in emotional distress and irritability.
An employee might need additional support, including:
- Positive reinforcement
- Refer the employee to counseling or other assistance programs
- Provide training or information to coworkers on how they can help and support their peer
- Create a stress management plan, including additional breaks or exercises
Does your employer deny your right to workplace accommodation? Our firm can help.
Ernst Law Group lawyers understand the devastating effects a TBI can have on personal injury victims and their families. Our team has worked with hundreds of victims who have sustained a traumatic brain injury due to another’s negligence to hold negligent parties accountable.
We are Los Angeles personal injury lawyers experienced in obtaining the compensation and return to work accommodations necessary to rebuild your life. Let us provide you with a complimentary consultation. Call us at (805) 541-0300.