I have joined in a new workplace and I haven’t signed an agreement yet. It is the second day. The office is based in a church which isn’t in service but I have megalophobia (fear of a huge structure). I tried to remain calm but I got a panic attack when I visited the toilet.

I have decided not to work for the company but putting in a reason like that is strange. How can I negotiate that I have a phobia and cannot work on site?
What if they are not flexible? The recruiters or office might hold it against me or take legal action. I do not know what to do. p.s - I am a web developer.

  • 48
    Did you not notice this during the interview process or find out where you would be working before you turned up for the first day at work?
    – Draken
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 9:52
  • 8
    It sounds like you have claustrophobia and not megalophobia, as I don't understand how working in a spacious interview board room would have been better than being on the ground floor. If you knew you had these fears, why didn't you bring them up during the interview stage as a possible limiting factor?
    – Draken
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 10:56
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    Your only real chance to legitimize this is to get a written professional diagnosis. As the employer I would be miffed at your request regardless of how its delivered after the fact.
    – Neo
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 12:57
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    "I haven’t signed an agreement yet. " "The recruiters or office might hold it against me or take legal action." first of all they can't take any legal actions since you haven't signed anything and second of all, it's not worth their time, money or reputation to take legal actions because of someone deciding to back out of employment.
    – Jonast92
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 15:07
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    @Jonast92 there may be special circumstances like relocation costs having been paid or the like, but with no agreement signed, this is very unlikely. Also most employment includes a trial period. It is usually to the benefit of the employer rather than the employee, but it works both ways. If the job doesn't work for you, just quit (though of course having another option lined up first is probably a good idea).
    – jcaron
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 9:55

3 Answers 3


First, seek treatment for your phobia. There are specialists in the field and treatment is extremely effective.

Second, the likelihood of legal action against someone with a disability is low, though it may damage your reputation in the industry.

Third, and most important, Always do your research, and be aware of your limitations

I have sensory issues, and cannot handle certain environments, and it's bad. Because of this I just cross those places off of my list, but I ASK FIRST

If your phobia is debilitating (or any other disability) to the point you cannot do certain jobs, part of your research of the company is that in addition to everything else, you must make sure that the environment is one you can work in.

While, yes, there are various and sundry laws all over the world that say you cannot discriminate against people with disabilities, the reality is that they find ways. Beyond that, those same laws don't protect you if you simply cannot do the job.


  • Bow out gracefully
  • Do not mention your disability
  • Get treatment for your phobia.
  • 67
    but I ASK FIRST --> This. You cannot accept a new job IMO, and then say, "Oh wait, I have to work remote".
    – Neo
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 13:44
  • "Do not mention your disability" Why not? Understanding by all parties is the best way forward. They might end up being flexible and allow them to work from another office.
    – FabianCook
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 2:19
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    @FabianCook the OP already stated that this job is a no-go, so it's none of the employer's business any further. Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 3:37
  • 2
    little spelling error in the TLDR empLoyers. Editing 1 character gets crabby for other people... mind fixing it pls. ^_^ Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 18:03
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    It has been a while since I came to the site. I couldn't work coz of my Phobia so they let me loose and I do not mention in my CV, althought the downsite of that is I got a 8k less job, same job description and I m taking it as interm
    – user110973
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 13:59

Whilst it isn't ideal that you've taken on a role, and are now asking for adjustments, it shouldn't something that you avoid. If somebody is perfectly fine, and becomes disabled whilst employed are they not allowed to ask for adjustments? As you've tagged that you're in the UK there are specific things that will apply to your employment.

Whether your phobia qualifies as a disability, which would cover you under the Equality Act 2010, is something that will need to be determined by a professional. If it is then you're protected from discrimination and entitled to adjustments to your work so that you are not disadvantaged. It's defined as:

The Equality Act says a disability is a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day- to-day activities.

What you can do is ask for Reasonable Adjustments, these are when the employer modifies your surroundings, or role, etc to make it easier for you to work. An employer has to try and do this for employees conditions, however what is "reasonable" is open to interpretation.

If you are diagnosed professionally the employer may wish to verify this through their own, or 3rd party, occupational health service. Occupational health will also inform the business of any recommendations they have in regards to reasonable adjustments.

As your request is to work remotely, and they have the facility, they may permit this. However it is worth noting that under the employer is responsible for protecting your health and safety - even when working from home. If you're doing it for prolonged periods of time then, to protect themselves, they'd need to ensure that you're using safe equipment, sitting correctly etc. All of the things they cover in the office - they'd have to cover in your home, and that costs money and requires periodic checks. Of course not all employers do that and put responsibility to the employee, but it is a risk if you injure yourself on works time.

IANAL, so you would need to speak with a professional to check your legal standing. However it's worth asking if they would be open to working from home, then if they say no you can find somewhere else, but if they say yes then you are onto a winner.


Citizens Advice



First, important question: Is your phobia diagnosed to be severe enough to be a disability?

Not all phobias are and not all psychologists 'believe' that one can be a disability.

Because if it is then you should be fine, any repercussions are illegal unless the disability severely impacts your work. To illustrate the level of "severely" I am talking about here: A blind person cannot be a bus driver for instance, and even in that case in most nations prefer that the bus company finds them a non-driver job in the company as opposed to firing them.

So go to your manager and explain the situation. Bring any doctor's notes or other paperwork. It helps to come prepared with a plan and in your case it sounds like you have: work from home. You might be required to come into work every so often but any reasonable precaution should be taken (like a secluded small office for you to work in on those days). The legal protections for disabilities are very strong, don't let yourself be bullied out of those rights.

If you are self-diagnosed or your doctor deems your phobia not severe enough to be a disability things get a lot more complicated. But you can always ask if you could work from home just because. This being your first week makes that harder though.

  • 1
    A key part of this answer seems incorrect. The law doesn't require a phobia to be a "disability" as defined by psychologists, or to be formally diagnosed, or for "psychologists to believe this can [be a disability]." The law is very simple. It defines a "disability" for these purposes as any mental/physical "impairment" that has a "substantial and long-term adverse impact" on ones ability to undertake normal everyday activities. Is the OP apparently suffering from an "physical or mental impairment" that has such an effect. Yes, on their description. Pretty much end of that debate.
    – Stilez
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 20:47
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    That is the theory. In practice you'll need to prove the "substantial and long term" bit and that only works after a qualified assessment.
    – Borgh
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 8:06

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