What Do I Tell My Employer?
Michael V. Kaplen, Esq.
I had a mild TBI last year and now my employer expects me to work as I had before my injury. I still have problems with fatigue, memory, and concentration but have no visible scars. My doctors classify my injuries as “mild.” How do I explain to my employer that my problems are real?
Sometimes it's best that you don't do the explanation yourself when trying to
explain your TBI to your employer. Sometimes it's best if you work with professionals
such as neuropsychologists to explain to your employer that you had an injury,
that you have recovered to some extent from your injury, but you need some support
in order to do your job properly. And what you need to do is explain to your employer
that you are just not the same as you were before your injury. But that doesn't mean
that you can't go to work and do your job and do a competent job. It just means
that you need some assistance along the way. Some of those assists that you need
might be very simple assists that are easily provided and easy accommodations which,
under the law, your employer is obligated to give to you, such as providing you with
notepads so you can take notes, such as providing you with a tape recorder
so that when you go to a meeting you could record the information and listen to it back.
Sometimes you might just need short breaks during the course of the day
so that when you get cognitively fatigued you can recover and go back to work.
Sometimes the accommodation might be instead of working a full day you might only
work a half-day in order to accommodate your disability. Sometimes instructions,
rather than being in writing, if you have problems with visual difficulties following
your brain injury, those instructions can be communicated to you verbally.
So there--sometimes if you have problems with loud noises, your environment
could be moved to a more quiet space so that you can do your job.
And if you have a problem with bright lights, maybe you could work in an area
where there is more natural light than artificial light. These are easy accommodations
that could be provided, but employers are not aware of them because they're not aware,
first, of your injury and then not aware of the deficits that you have.
So sometimes it's easy if somebody with the proper skill set comes in and
explains it to your employer so that you get the help that you really need so that
you can remain at work and do your job properly.
Show transcript | Print transcript
Michael V. Kaplen, Esq. is a partner in the New York law firm, De Caro & Kaplen, LLP. He is the chairperson of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council and the immediate past president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
The contents of BrainLine (the “Web Site”), such as text, graphics, images, information obtained from the Web Site’s licensors and/or consultants, and other material contained on the Web Site (collectively, the “Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for medical, legal, or other professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Specifically, with regards to medical issues, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Web Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. The Web Site does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Web Site. Reliance on any information provided by the Web Site or by employees, volunteers or contractors or others associated with the Web Site and/or other visitors to the Web Site is solely at your own risk.