Are Mental Health Conditions Covered Under the ADA?

Mental health conditions are common across the country, as one in five Americans will experience one in a given year. Our mental health can impact all facets of our lives and some may also experience physical symptoms that come with a mental health condition. Of course, these conditions do not go away when you enter the workplace each day. You might be aware of the rights afforded to individuals with physical disabilities, but you might wonder if you have any rights as an employee with a mental health condition.

While, unfortunately, mental health conditions are not always taken as seriously as physical disabilities, many employees are entitled to the same rights and protections. If you have a mental health condition, you may still be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

What Mental Health Conditions Are Covered Under the ADA?

Under the ADA, disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” This means that while mental health conditions are included in the ADA, not all employees will be protected under the ADA if it does not substantially limit at least one major life activity. Various conditions are covered under the ADA, including the following:

  • Anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Major life activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Thinking
  • Communicating
  • Walking
  • Sleeping
  • Eating
  • Learning
  • Breathing
  • Lifting

Symptoms of mental health conditions may come and go, and some conditions may be temporary. Even if your symptoms are not permanently present, you may still be covered under the ADA. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “If your symptoms come and go, what matters is how limiting they would be when the symptoms are present.”

What Types of Reasonable Accommodations Can You Recieve?

Accommodations for employees with mental health conditions might not be as obvious or well-known as those for employees with physical impairments. However, there are still many reasonable accommodations that employers can be required to make for employees with mental health conditions depending on their needs.

Some accommodations an employee with a mental health condition may need include:

  • Flexible scheduling
  • Telecommuting
  • Removal of distractions in work areas
  • Adjustments to supervisory methods
  • Modification or removal of non-essential job duties

Can My Employer Ask About My Mental Health Condition?

If you have a mental health condition, you may want this information to be kept private at work. Many employees are not required to disclose a mental health condition, so you may have privacy if this is what makes you comfortable.

However, there are occasions when employees may have to disclose information regarding a mental health condition to their employer. If you need to request a reasonable accommodation, your employer may need to ask questions about your condition. They may also need to inquire about a condition if there is objective evidence that you can’t perform your job duties or pose a safety risk. Employers may ask about mental health conditions when engaging in affirmative action for people with disabilities, in which case you may choose to disclose your condition.

Experienced NYC Disability Discrimination Attorneys

The ADA provides protections to employees with physical and mental disabilities. If you’ve experienced discrimination at work due to your condition, you deserve a team that will fight to protect your rights. At Brown Kwon & Lam, our disability discrimination attorneys are experienced in protecting employees and putting a stop to employment discrimination.

Contact our New York disability discrimination attorneys today.

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