Difficulty getting accomodation at work?
I've been living with severe vestibular neuritis for about ten years now. I was diagnosed in 2014. I'm a software engineer. At the time I had the doctor's office fax a signed letter to my HR department indicating my need to work from a home office. My supervisor was in complete agreement, and HR didn't complain. I also submitted a request for accommodation to make sure I was clearly indicating I needed this under the ADA.
Fast forward, the company has demanded I send a long questionnaire to the doctor's office (now 7 years since I was last seen) to have the doctor answer questions like "What limitations interfere with job performance?" and "How would your suggestions improve the employee's job performance?" which I know for a fact no doctor is going to answer. I saw a similar problem when my significant other was dealing with Worker's Compensation from a traumatic brain injury / post concussive syndrome... the doctors wouldn't answer anything they felt was a liability legally. One of the neurologists said honestly, "we don't want to be subpoenaed to court, we're not medical examiners, the liability is too great." and "we don't know anything about your job, your job skill requirements, and won't comment on your fitness for any particular employment."
Specifically, I bought (at my expense) larger monitors and equipment to reduce my visual fatigue that I have come to know greatly harms my ability to move around when I've taxed it too far. This worked fine for many years, but recently the company swapped out my laptop with a model that can't support those larger monitors and all the external devices. I was told to use smaller standard-issue monitors to fix the issue (instead of just getting the proper dock hardware)... I explained I need these to prevent severe burn out medically. They want proof in the form of a long 8-question essay format questionnaire, and despite my concerns about the reality of getting that filled out they are persisting.
So now I'm left with trying to argue with a doctor's office to do something they wouldn't normally do, and the lack of doing so will cause a major problem with my employer--of whom I think is being unrealistic in what a doctor will and won't sign off on. I also know it's been 6-7 years since I've seen my doctor, and it takes 4-6 months to get an appointment. He's a very prestigious oto-neurologist in the Northeast US and his time is very hard to get--but he's the best medical provider I ever saw for my vestibular diagnosis journey.
Is this the unfortunate moment I need to retain an attorney to be allowed my accommodations to do my job? Any advice on how to handle this? Has anyone been through this?
Thanks to any who have advice or feedback.
Hi! I'm so sorry this is happening to you!
I know when I had to get my neurologist to sign off on work accommodations, I submitted it through the nursing staff, who filled out all the forms for me. I submitted to them a list of the accommodations I needed. The doctor just had to sign. Does your doctor have a nursing staff that you could call up and speak with about the situation? It's possible they will be willing to sign off on more than you think, especially if you give them a specific list of what you need and why.
Before I had a neurologist, my primary care doctor signed off on every accommodation I told her I needed. That might be another avenue if you see a PCP more frequently. If you have a physical therapist, you could try that route as well. Good luck! 🙂
I suffer from Bilateral Vestibular Hypofunction (loss) for 6 years now.
I do agree with Sandy that your company will likely accept a signed recommendation from a licensed health professional, be it a nurse, vestibular therapist, etc. I believe a written letter by this health professional should suffice as opposed to completing the form you mentioned.
Just some intuitive thoughts:
- a small (?) company will have a more difficult time accommodating your situation than a larger company.
- Accommodating employees is a highly variable exercise and continually changing based on the business goals. structure, and many other variables.
- There may be a reasonable explanation why the request to complete the form came about after 7 years. New HR Manager, Director, Company Attorney, Department Head, etc. It would be a good idea to speak about why it came about and understand the reason for the new form. Then you can better address their concerns.
- People like specifics just like the software requirements lists. So generate a list of Vestibular work requirements and rate them like you would other software. Must have, good to have, wish to have etc. People, HR for example, can deal with an actual list of requirements easier than they can deal with an overall statement of "I must work from home because I have this thing you know nothing about"
- Immediately after my vestibular loss I truly believed I could do my job without any drop-off in performance. After 4 years of trying and in hindsight I truly couldn't do the SAME job at the same performance rate regardless of the accommodations I received.
Thanks for your time.