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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Accommodation and Compliance: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder that affects millions of adults. Other conditions can accompany OCD, resulting in a dual-diagnosis, including eating disorders, other anxiety disorders, and depression. Symptoms of OCD include persistent, upsetting thoughts (obsessions) and the use of rituals (compulsions) to control the anxiety those thoughts produce. These rituals can end up controlling individuals with OCD and negatively impact their personal and work life, resulting in the need for accommodations at work. Common problems in the workplace for employees with OCD that may require reasonable accommodation include attendance and punctuality issues, the ability to meet deadlines and stay organized, and problems maintaining concentration and managing distractions. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA does not contain a definitive list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA defines a person with a disability as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities," (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).

Accommodating Employees with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

People with OCD may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with OCD will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What limitations is the employee experiencing?
  2. How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
  3. What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
  4. What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
  5. Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
  6. Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?

Accommodation Ideas:

Situations and Solutions:

The following situations and solutions are real-life examples of accommodations that were made by JAN customers. Because accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis, these examples may not be effective for every workplace but give you an idea about the types of accommodations that are possible.

Events Regarding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)