Unfortunately, reality often outperforms and upstages any attempt at fictional characterization of the workplace. Often, the meanness and temperamental behavior of a supervisor in the “real” workplace can never be properly represented by an actor’s attempt in a sitcom or a drama; the persistent, irrational, capricious and outright cruel behavior and acts of “the boss” or one of his/her underlings can never be accurately depicted in fiction. Further, the reality of the consequences of such behavior can be devastating. Workplace stress resulting from demeaning behavior, intentional acts to undermine, cruel and arbitrary acts against a specific employee, can all result in serious medical consequences.
It is all well and good to talk about internal procedures — of filing an EEOC Complaint; filing a grievance; filing a complaint based upon discrimination, etc. But beyond such agency procedures to protect one’s self, there is the problem of the eruption of a medical condition, be it Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, physical symptoms of IBS, chronic pain, headaches — some or all of which may result from such stresses in the workplace. There is no diagnostic tool to establish the link between the medical condition and the workplace stress.
For Federal and Postal employees thinking about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, there is the context of harassment & stress in the workplace, and then the medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job. Sometimes, it is difficult to bifurcate the two. That which is difficult, however, must sometimes be accomplished in order to be successful. The origin of the medical condition may have to be set aside, because it “complicates” the proving of a Federal Disability Retirement application. If one is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the story — however real — of the workplace harassment, may have to be left behind.
Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire