5 tips for accommodating depression, PTSD, and other mental illnesses

October 15, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Mark Wiletsky

An estimated 16.1 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2015, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). That number represents 6.7 percent of all American adults who are 18 or older. Seven or eight out of every 100 people will have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives, says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Center for PTSD. That number increases to somewhere between 11 and 20 out of every 100 veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.  Head with gears

As the numbers show, depression, PTSD, and other mental illnesses are relatively prevalent in our society. At some point, you will be faced with an employee who suffers from a mental condition. You need to know your obligations with regard to potential accommodations for employees with mental disabilities.

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Top 10 employer mistakes in accommodating disabled employees

September 17, 2017 1 COMMENTS

by Matthew A. Goodin

Even experienced HR professionals have a difficult time with requests for reasonable accommodation from disabled employees. This process is even trickier if the employee needs a leave of absence as an accommodation because of the intersection of different laws that govern leaves of absence. Below are some of the most common mistakes employers make when accommodating employees with disabilities. Recognizing and avoiding these mistakes will go a long way toward preventing unwanted litigation.    TOP 10. Rainbow splash paint

1. Not having adequate job descriptions

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Increase diversity by recruiting, retaining people with disabilities

July 16, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Stephanie Holstein

Having a diverse workforce includes hiring people with disabilities, which can create a positive and inclusive work environment, be good for the bottom line, and help bring down the high unemployment rates of people with disabilities. There are a number of best practices and helpful resources to make recruiting and retaining people with disabilities an effective and manageable process for employers looking to successfully implement an initiative to employ more people with disabilities.  Businessman discussing with colleagues in office

Recruiting candidates with disabilities

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Dealing with hidden disability: Navigating protections for workers with addictions

June 18, 2017 0 COMMENTS

Employers generally understand their obligations related to legal protections for people with disabilities. But not all disabilities are obvious, sometimes not even to those afflicted. Such may be the case when employees suffer from addiction to prescription drugsa problem that’s been in the spotlight lately. And with good reason: The costs employers face related to such addictions are staggering.  Medicine sales man rep offering pills

For example, an analysis released in March claims that healthcare costs for employees who misuse or abuse prescription drugs are three times the costs for an average employee. The analysis is from the National Safety Council, independent research institution NORC at the University of Chicago, and Shatterproof, a nonprofit organization working to end the stigma of addiction and support families dealing with it. The groups have developed a Substance Use Cost Calculator to help employers understand the impact of addiction on their business.

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Service animal or pet? When Rover comes to work

May 14, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Erica E. Flores

For decades, service animals were used almost exclusively to assist the blind and, in that role, were aptly known simply as guide dogs or seeing-eye dogs. But times have changed. Today, dogs and other service animals—including monkeys, parrots, and miniature horses—are being trained to provide a remarkable variety of services to individuals with disabilities. They can alert the hearing impaired to household and environmental sounds, warn epileptics of oncoming seizures, calm children and adults with autism, signal diabetics of changes in their insulin levels, and, increasingly, provide comfort and companionship to people with a wide range of mental and emotional disabilities, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What does that mean for employers?   Pit Bull Wearing Service Dog Vest

Emotional support animals?

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Distracted worker may be entitled to ‘disability’ accommodation

May 14, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Robert P. Tinnin, Jr.

Q One of our workers has been with the company for about three years. From the outset, he has been an outstanding performer. About four months ago, however, he went through a divorce, which appears to have had a major impact on him, and he seems distracted. Both the quantity and the quality of his work have suffered demonstrably. I have given him two written warnings that he must improve both the quantity and quality of his work or face discharge. The last warning was about a month ago, and I have seen no improvement. Can I terminate him now for poor performance?  Group of multi-tasking creative people working in the office.

A Before doing so, make every effort to determine whether he might be “disabled” within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and explore accommodations for his condition.

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Questions and answers on accommodating employees with mental disabilities

April 16, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Jonathan R. Mook

The following article answers some common questions about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) recently promulgated guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and mental health conditions.

Q Why should employers review the EEOC’s mental health guidance?  Head with gears

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Even under ADAAA, being ‘ill-tempered’ is not a disability

April 16, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Rozlyn Fulgoni-Britton

Ever since the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) became law and substantially expanded the definition of “disability,” employers have been warned not to focus on whether an employee has a disability when evaluating reasonable accommodations. While that warning is valid, it is not absolute, and employers should not completely skip evaluating whether an employee has a disability. Even the 9th Circuit, where employees typically fare relatively well, has found that “cantankerous” and “ill-tempered” employees who are disciplined for treating coworkers and subordinates inappropriately do not have a disability that substantially limits the major life activity of interacting with others.  Angry boss

Facts

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EEOC provides guidance on mental health conditions in the workplace

March 19, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Howard Fetner

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued a resource document explaining the rights of job applicants and employees with mental health conditions. The document explains that applicants and employees with mental health issues are protected from discrimination and harassment based on their conditions, may be entitled to reasonable accommodations, and have a right to privacy regarding their medical information.  EEOC-jpg

Background

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ADA interactive process: When does your obligation to engage begin?

January 15, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Susan Hartmus Hiser

Q We have an employee whose work performance has been slipping lately. We have reason to believe that she is suffering from depression because she was diagnosed as bipolar and had a bout of depression a few years ago that led to a similar decline in her work performance. We allowed her to work a modified schedule for a brief period while she was being treated by her therapist. She hasn’t requested another accommodation recently. Can we discipline her, up to and including termination, based on her performance, or do we need to take steps to address her depression under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?   depressed businessman at office working on computer asking for help

A Both the ADA and many state laws place the initial burden on the employee to inform her employer of a need for an accommodation. However, in the situation you describe, given the employee’s history of depression and her attendant performance issues, a court could find that your company was on notice of her need for an accommodation, even though she didn’t request one. That’s particularly true since she required an accommodation to address her performance issues the last time she had a bout with depression. When an employer has knowledge of an employee’s disability, she need not use the word “accommodation” to trigger the ADA obligation of engaging in the interactive process.

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