Over the last few years, more and more news outlets have reported about the importance of maintaining your mental health. However, for those with major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder or even ADHD, how does that apply in the workplace? Are jobs protected for those with mental health conditions?
First, yes, employees with mental health conditions are protected under the American Disabilities Act. Employers can’t discriminate against employees in the hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, benefit, training or job opportunity process simply because an employee has a mental health issue. They have give reasonable accommodations for those with mental health conditions.
What’s a “reasonable” accommodation?
Some of the reasonable accommodations for mental health conditions include the following:
- Altered break and work schedules (scheduling around therapy appointments)
- A quiet work environment
- Specific supervisory methods (such as written instructions from a supervisor instead of verbal ones)
- Specific shift schedules
- Permission for telecommuting
Most employees notify their supervisor or HR representative about their mental health condition upon employment or after its diagnosis. If your mental health condition is temporary, you still may qualify for a reasonable accommodation. Also, by making your mental health condition known, you may qualify for certain benefits, such as the Family Medical Leave Act.
What are my privacy rights?
Employers must keep an employee’s mental health condition private, just as with any other medical condition. In these circumstances, an employer can ask employees about medical conditions:
- After an employee asks for a reasonable accommodation
- After a job offer, before employment begins (if the employer asks all candidates in the same job category the same things)
- When the company measures statistics for affirmative action for disabled workers, but you can choose if you want to disclose it then
- If you are unable to do your job or pose a safety risk because of your condition
Have my disability rights been violated?
If you feel your disability rights have been violated because of a mental health condition, contact an experienced employment attorney. In some cases, you have only 180 days after an alleged violation to take legal action.