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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Dealing with the unseen: Tips for traversing legal terrain of hidden disabilities

March 19, 2017 0 COMMENTS

Work can be stressful for anyone, and employers are wise to ease the burdens when possible in the interest of maintaining productivity and the general well-being of the workforce. But disabilities can complicate the issue, especially when the disability isn’t obvious.  man with stressed face expression brain melting into lines

Human resources professionals may be well aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as the ADA Amendments Act that broadened the law’s protections in many cases, require employers to provide qualified employees who have a disability an opportunity to be productive at work by engaging in the “interactive process” and providing “reasonable accommodations.”

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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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Understanding strengths, weaknesses of bipolar employees

July 17, 2016 1 COMMENTS

Disabilities of all types pose challenges for employers and employees alike. As employers struggle to find ways to help employees with disabilities do their jobs, they also must fulfill obligations created by laws designed to prevent discrimination and violate privacy. Like other disabilities, bipolar disorder presents its own unique challengesconcerns that will be explored in a Business and Legal Resources webinar set for July 28 titled “Employees with Bipolar Disorder: HR’s Roadmap for ADA Accommodations and Practical Issues.”  Human Emotion

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, causes people to experience varying highs and lows as well as changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. A bipolar employee may be wildly creative and productive sometimes and disruptive and nonproductive at other times, meaning employers see great strengths and frustrating weaknesses all wrapped up in the same employee.

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