Does the ADA Protect Against Mental Health Discrimination?

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Does the ADA Protect Against Mental Health Discrimination?

Does the ADA Protect Against Mental Health Discrimination?

mental health discrimination

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, people with disabilities have had protections in the workplace and public places. This law was made to protect and support people who might suffer discrimination for their disabilities, and leave them without the ability to protect and care for themselves.

It’s important to understand that the law could only account for disabilities currently recognized and well-understood. For disabilities that people were not aware of like they are today, the ADA was an imperfect fix. Some were and are covered by its protections, while others are left up to interpretation. This is where many mental health disabilities come in, and whether or not they are protected from discrimination.

If you suffer a disability caused by a mental health condition, you need to know whether or not you’re protected from discrimination. The disability discrimination attorneys at Barrett & Farahany can explain.

What Does the Americans with Disabilities Act Protect?

The Americans with Disabilities Act was rather vague in what it covered, possibly in an attempt to help cover as many disabilities as possible. Under the ADA, a disability can be a physical or mental impairment, and this impairment must affect:

  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Movement
  • Speech
  • Breathing
  • Reading
  • Learning
  • Thought
  • Focus
  • Communication

These functions cover a wide range of activities and, thus, a wide range of disabilities. But the ADA goes even further than this. It also includes impairments to one of the following bodily functions/systems:

  • Neurological system
  • Immune system
  • Respiratory system
  • Circulatory system
  • Endocrine system
  • Digestive system
  • Reproductive system
  • Proper Cell system

This means something temporary but long-lasting in effect, like cancer, can be considered a physical disability, too.

Does the ADA Protect Workers With Mental Health Conditions?

Based on what ADA says, it does protect workers with mental health conditions, even ones that are not visible like some others. This means that mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and more have protections under the ADA.

If you have a condition that impedes your work in any way and an accommodation would help, you should inform your employer. As with physical disabilities, your employer needs to give you a reasonable accommodation. If they do not, this can be considered disability discrimination.

Examples of Mental Health Accommodations

Mental health accommodations may not be as obvious or simple as creating a ramp or modifying a restroom. An accommodation for a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety could be longer breaks or more time for an employee to finish work. This allows an employee to step aside and take care of themselves without potentially interrupting another employee, and getting their work completed.

Some places of business can accommodate this better than others. An office space with assigned work can more easily accommodate an employee who needs an extra break for anxiety by letting them take longer for their work, or changing how they can take their break hours to accommodate the added time.

If possible, an employer can create a private room for employees to enter to take a moment away from a stressful work environment. Some work environments have to be high-pressure, but employers can help to mitigate the mental health dangers the job poses.

Contact the Disability Discrimination Attorneys at Barrett & Farahany

Having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t have a long-lasting and fulfilling career. It doesn’t mean that you have to suffer in silence either. You have a right to a workplace accommodation, and this applies to mental health disabilities, not just physical ones.

If your employer refuses to give you a reasonable accommodation but gives an accommodation for another disability, you may be experiencing disability discrimination. For help, contact the disability discrimination attorneys at Barrett & Farahany today.

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