EEOC Reminds Workers of Mental Health Discrimination Protections

by Doug Chartier

LAW WEEK COLORADO

Before 2016 came to a close, the federal government reiterated the rights employees have regarding what is one of the most sensitive topics they can grapple with in the workplace.

On Dec. 12 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission laid down new guidance regarding mental health discrimination in the workplace under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The guidance came in the form of a Q&A meant for the employee reader, but it serves as a reminder of EEOC policy for the human resources audience as well as attorneys keeping tabs on the commission’s messaging.

“Depression, PTSD & Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace” reminds employees that under the ADA, an employer cannot fire them, reject them for a job or promotion or force them to take leave solely because of a mental health condition. The Q&A also explains the interactive process for requesting a reasonable accommodation for a mental health condition.

Veronica von Grabow, a labor and employment attorney who is an associate with Jackson Lewis in Denver, said that the EEOC’s new mental health discrimination guidance appears to be “very consistent” with its traditional guidance on disability rights as a whole. If anything, it emphasizes that employers must treat mental health conditions the same way as physical disabilities, she added.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the January 2, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.