Mental Illness in the Workplace


September 21 | 4:00-5:00 PM | Room 2584

This presentation seeks to destigmatize mental illnesses for employers and employees. Most mental illnesses are impairments that affect an employee in at least one major activity that (s)he must do daily. Therefore, discrimination or harassment based on a mental illness likely violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees will learn about their legal rights if they have a mental illness including anxiety, depression, bipolar, ADHD, autism/Asperger’s, schizophrenia, OCD, and others. The presenter will discuss using hypotheticals, why employees should document discussions and request reasonable accommodations before they have performance or conduct problems. In addition, the presenter will review what to do if they were discriminated against or harassed based on their mental illness. Employers with more than 15 employees are required under the ADA to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, unless doing so would impose an undue burden.  If an employee tells a supervisor that (s)he has a mental illness, the employer has an ongoing duty to engage in a discussion with the employee about the illness; how (and if) it limits the employee’s performance; reasonable accommodations to aid the employee to perform the essential functions of the job; and medical documentation needed, if any. Employers must have a “no tolerance” policy for employees or third parties (e.g., vendors, customers) who discriminate or harass other employees because of their mental illnesses. The presenter will discuss how to have these conversations, and learn tips for employers, like having clear policies, training supervisors and HR, and documenting discussions with employees to mitigate risk.

Presentation Objectives:

  • Destigmatize mental illness for employers and employees
  • Review how affected employees will learn about their legal rights
  • Explain the importance of documentation of accommodation requests
  • Discuss how to legally handle discrimination/harassment

About the Presenter