Coping with PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) in any aspect of your life is a challenge. Dealing with PMDD at work can be especially difficult. Maintaining a business demeanor when you are experiencing violent mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, and often physical pain related to PMDD can seem an impossible thing to do. You may find that you need to be absent from work while your PMDD symptoms are at their most severe. You may wonder if you can do that without losing your job. There are some measures you can take to ensure that you can take the time off work that you need in order to cope with your PMDD symptoms without losing your job.
What you should know
- PMDD is covered as a mental illness and/or mood disorder under the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) for companies with 50+ employees AND after 1 year of employment
- If your employer does not have enough employees to qualify you for FMLA but does have more than 15 employees, you will still be protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
- You DO NOT need to explain PMDD specifically, only that you have a medical condition that may require you to sometimes take time off from work
- You may need to have your doctor sign off on a document that states that you do suffer from a medical condition
Steps You Can Take
You will need to let your Human Resources department or your direct supervisor know that you have a medical condition which may require you to be out of work occasionally. You do not need to go into great detail about your PMDD symptoms, nor do you even need to state that you suffer from PMDD - all they need to know is that you have a medical condition that may require you to sometimes take time off from work. You need to do this (no matter how embarrassing it may seem) in order to legally protect yourself in the event you are fired from your job for the days you missed because your PMDD symptoms were too severe.
FMLA - Family Medical Leave Act
If you work where there are 50 or more employees AND you've been employed there for over 12 months, have it documented in your employee work file that you have a medical condition that may affect your ability to do your job at times. This is the first step to being able to use the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in order to take time off when your PMDD symptoms are at their most severe. You may need to have your doctor sign off on a document that states that you do suffer from a medical condition and that you may need to take intermittent leave in order to cope with your PMDD symptoms. FMLA will protect your job, pay, and benefits by allowing you to take a limited amount of unpaid time off without penalty in order to cope with your PMDD symptoms.
ADA - American Disabilities Act
If your employer does not have enough employees to qualify you for FMLA but does have more than 15 employees, you will still be protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Your employer is required under the ADA to make reasonable accommodations for you to be able to do your job. This may include allowing time off work when your PMDD symptoms are at their worst, or allowing you a private workspace when your PMDD symptoms make it difficult to interact directly with other people. As long as your request does not cause undue hardship to your employer, it should be met so you are able to do your work.
Free Assistance With Job Accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides free, confidential technical assistance about job accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Contact a JAN Consultant at (800)526-7234 (Voice) / (877)781-9403 (TTY). Visit https://askjan.org/ for more information.