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Question
Posted by: Stan | 2011-11-21

Working environment detrimental to mental health

Hi doc

I will keep this as short and concise as possible.
Firstly, I am a 37 male suffering from bipolar 2 disorder/panic disorder.
I work in a big company and about a year and a half ago the company involuntary transferred me to another department. This transfer involved significant changes in working conditions and this has had an adverse effect on my mental health. Where I once worked in a office I now work in a big noisy open plan office with inadequate ventilation and an industrial atmosphere. I find it difficult to concentrate in this environment and it has a very negative effect on my mental condition. (I have been hospitalised twice since I have worked here). There are however some of my colleagues performing the same duties in a different location with much better office conditions. I want to know if I can demand (with the help from my psychiatrist) that my employer to transfer me to this other location?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

I think that proper protection for people with chronic psych disorders like Bipolar is implied by the constitution and other laws, but its far from sufficiently established in case law.
Even without a specific disorder, there are isues about changing someone's work conditions unfavourably, and there's the offense of Constructive Dismissal where a company deliberately makes your working conditions unbearable to force you to choose to resign, rather than sacking you or making you redundant.
But you really need the advice of a labour lawyer. It will indeed help if your psychiatrist agrees that these working conditions are aggravating your health problems, but its useful to have a good lawyer who knows the rules and how to get them properly applied

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3
Our users say:
Posted by: Liza | 2011-11-21

Be careful with this. Very careful. If your psychiatrist agrees that your working conditions are detrimental to your health, your company is supposed to make a reasonable attempt to improve your working conditions. If the company then decides that it would not be feasible to change your working conditions (i.e. no space at the different location or they simply SAY that there''s no space at the other location), they can decide that you''re too ill to continue working for them. This happened to me almost 6 years ago. My company decided that they did not WANT to improve my working conditions and threatened me with disciplinary action due to illness unless I signed a mutual seperation agreement whereby I would receive 2 months salary in exchange for not taking them to court for constructive dismissal. I hadn''t been there very long, so 2 months was an acceptable severence. Unfortunately the manager that I had then, refused to give me a reference when prospective employers called - which meant that for 2 years I didn''t get a single job interview. Only after I had my brother call the manager for a reference, did I find out that he was refusing to give a reference. I finally found a position again after I removed this company from my CV...

Reply to Liza
Posted by: Yes | 2011-11-21

Bi polar is a disability- you are entitled to reasonable accomodation in the same vien as a wheelchair user.

Reply to Yes
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011-11-21

I think that proper protection for people with chronic psych disorders like Bipolar is implied by the constitution and other laws, but its far from sufficiently established in case law.
Even without a specific disorder, there are isues about changing someone's work conditions unfavourably, and there's the offense of Constructive Dismissal where a company deliberately makes your working conditions unbearable to force you to choose to resign, rather than sacking you or making you redundant.
But you really need the advice of a labour lawyer. It will indeed help if your psychiatrist agrees that these working conditions are aggravating your health problems, but its useful to have a good lawyer who knows the rules and how to get them properly applied

Reply to cybershrink

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