I know y’all are waiting with baited breath — wait, hold do you bait breath? Like a putting a worm on a fishing line or something?
Right, as I was saying, I know y’all are waiting with bated breath for me to publish all of those reader-submitted holiday-party “yowzas” I asked you to email me yesterday. But, let’s give that one more day to marinate — build the suspense.
Today, I’m sharing a new resource document that explains workplace rights for individuals with mental health conditions under the Americans With Disabilities Act. This one, right herre, entitled Depression, PTSD, & Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace: Your Legal Rights.
Hopefully, most of what’s in there is old hat for you guys.
For example, no, you can’t fire someone because they have a mental health condition.
(Yes, you can fire someone with a mental health condition because that person cannot perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation).
Plus, an employer doesn’t have to hire or keep people in jobs they can’t perform, or employ people who objectively pose a “direct threat” to safety (a significant risk of substantial harm to self or others), even with an accommodation.
Can you ask an employee with a mental health condition for medical documentation of the condition if that employee asks for a reasonable accommodation? Yes, you can.
(Although, you shouldn’t necessarily force the employee to disclose the precise condition as long as the employee sufficiently documents the condition generally, describes the limitations, and identifies particular accommodations to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job).
Now, I know what you’re thinking. What about the employee with an anxiety disorder triggered by work? What possible reasonable accommodation exists to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job?
Maybe a transfer to another department away from a particular supervisor/co-worker stressor. Telecommute? Maybe. Also, consider FMLA leave or some other finite unpaid leave of absence.
Above all, regardless of the underlying disability, when an employee requests an accommodation, make sure that you engage in a good faith, interactive dialogue to ascertain if a reasonable accommodation would help the employee do the job, absent significant difficulty or expense. If more than one accommodation would work, you get to choose which one. (Although, I’m a big fan of giving the employee what they ask for as long as it’s reasonable).
And, if you have questions, call a lawyer.