Accommodating Mental Illness in the Workplace

Accommodating Mental Illness in the Workplace

If you have a mental health condition, you should know that you have protection against employment discrimination and harassment. Whether you are applying for a new job or you are currently working for an employer, it is essential for you to know that you cannot be discriminated against on the basis of your mental health condition. Mental health conditions can include a wide range of conditions, and they do not need to be permanent in nature. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) identifies depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as two types of mental health conditions that people have and for which they have protections under state and federal law. Our Illinois employment discrimination attorneys can provide you with more information about mental health and disability protections — including accommodations — on the job.

Reasonable Accommodations for Mental Health Conditions

Employees with disabilities, including a range of mental health conditions, may be eligible for reasonable accommodations in the workplace under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities as long as an accommodation would not create an undue hardship for the employer. Disabilities for which an employee can receive reasonable accommodations can include many types of mental health conditions. The EEOC explains that “mental health conditions like major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) should easily qualify, and many others will qualify as well.”

According to the EEOC, a reasonable accommodation is “some type of change in the way things are normally done at work.” An employee can be eligible for a reasonable accommodation if they have a mental health condition “that would, if left untreated, ‘substantially limit’ [their] ability to concentrate, interact with others, communicate, eat, sleep, care for [themselves], regulate [their] thoughts or emotions, or do any other ‘major life activity.’” It is important to know that the mental health condition does not have to be permanent or severe in order for it to be “substantially limiting” such that reasonable accommodation is necessary. 

How to Get a Reasonable Accommodation for a Mental Health Condition

What do you need to do in order to get a reasonable accommodation for your mental health condition? To receive reasonable accommodation, you will need to ask for one by making the request to your employer, your manager, or another person. Your employer may require you to make your request in writing, and the employer can ask you medical questions about your mental health condition in relation to the reasonable accommodation. 

Examples of reasonable accommodations for mental health conditions could include, for instance:

  • Change in work schedule;
  • Quiet space in the office;
  • Different methods of supervision; or
  • Permission to perform work from home.

Contact an Employment Discrimination Lawyer in Illinois

If you have faced employment discrimination due to a mental illness or if your employer has refused to provide a reasonable accommodation for a mental illness in the workplace, it is essential to seek advice from an Illinois employment discrimination attorney. Just because your disability may be “invisible” does not mean that you do not have rights. You may have protections under Illinois law and under the federal ADA. Our firm can assess your case for you today. Contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline for more information.