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EEOC Issues New Guidance on Mental Health Conditions

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently posted a new "Workplace Rights" document for employees and job applicants with mental-health conditions.

The document answers eight questions about the rights of employees and job applicants with mental health conditions under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The ADA is the federal law prohibiting discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in employment; it covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.

The EEOC highlights the following important facts for employees and job applicants:

  • If you have any mental-health condition that would, if left untreated, "substantially limit" your ability to concentrate, interact with others, communicate, eat, sleep, care for yourself, regulate your thoughts or emotions, or do any other "major life activity," you may be a qualified individual with a disability under the ADA.
  • It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee or job applicant because he or she has a mental-health condition. This includes firing, rejecting you for a job or promotion or forcing you to take leave.
  • Employees with mental-health conditions can request and may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation that would help them do their job. An accommodation may include altered break and work schedules, quiet office space or devices that create a quiet work environment, changes in supervisory methods (e.g., written instructions from a supervisor), specific shift assignments, and permission to work from home.
  • If a reasonable accommodation would help you do your job, your employer must give you one unless the accommodation involves significant difficulty or expense.
  • If you cannot do your job because of a mental-health condition, even with an accommodation, you may be entitled to leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, unpaid leave, or reassignment to another position.
  • Harassment is also not allowed under the ADA and employees with a mental health condition that are being harassed due to that condition should report the harassment to their employer.

Employees and job applicants that have a mental-health condition have the same rights and are entitled to the same protections under the ADA as individuals with physical disabilities. If you think you have been denied a reasonable accommodation or have been discriminated against because of your mental-health condition, the attorneys at Lebau & Neuworth may be able to help. For more information, contact us at 888-456-2529 or lebauneuworth.com/contact-us.

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