Mental Health and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Oct 28, 2022

Employers are required to engage in the interactive process to determine if a reasonable accommodation will help employees with disabilities do their job. Employers need to be aware that this includes mental health issues, and “disabilities” are not always obvious. How should employers handle such requests if it’s not obvious? Keep reading for the EEOC recommendations:

According to the US EEOC, 1 in 5 adults in the US experience a mental health issue in 2020, with anxiety, depression and PTSD leading the way. The ADA provides employers cannot discriminate, or refuse to grant a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, unless there is an undue hardship. 

Employers should keep these points in mind:

  1. The mental health issue does not need to be permanent.
  2. Each medical issue should be assessed individually- all employees are different, their job descriptions are different, and their symptoms/restrictions are all different. If one person cannot perform a specific task due to depression, this does not mean another person also cannot do a particular task. It also does not mean that the same accommodation will be appropriate for two different employees. 
  3. There are many reasonable accommodations, and they should all be explored if reasonable to assist the employee in performing his essential job duties.
  4. If employers are relying on undue hardship to deny a request for a reasonable accommodation, make sure the reason is more than a perceived inconvenience or not profitable for the company.

If you have managers on the front line making decisions for the employees, make sure they are properly trained to identify requests by employees which would trigger an employer obligation under the ADA. 

Sign managers up for my comprehensive ADA Course where they will learn everything about the ADA from start to finish, in an easy to navigate 2 hour online program. (link in bio for more info and to enroll)


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For informational purposes only. Not legal advice. 

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