What Do I Tell My Employer?
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.
Posted on BrainLine August 30, 2011. Reviewed March 20, 2018.
Michael V. Kaplen, Esq. is a partner in the New York law firm De Caro & Kaplen, LLP. Mr. Kaplen is a professorial lecturer in law at The George Washington University Law School, where he teaches a course in traumatic brain injury law. Mr. Kaplan serves on the board of directors for the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers.