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EEOC issues new guidance for workers with mental health conditions

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued new guidance for workers with mental health conditions like PTSD and depression. The guidance discusses how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects workers with mental health conditions and what the ADA requires employers to do to accommodate workers with mental health conditions.

The guidance makes clear that employers have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations for workers with mental health conditions if the worker needs such an accommodation to do her job. The guidance explains that a “reasonable accommodation is some type of change in the way things are normally done at work” such as “altered break and work schedules (e.g., scheduling work around therapy appointments)” and “changes in supervisory methods (e.g., written instructions from a supervisor who usually does not provide them).”

If you ask for a reasonable accommodation for a mental health condition, your employer may ask you to obtain information from your health care provider to prove that you have a mental health condition and that you need a reasonable accommodation. The EEOC’s guidance includes a link to a resource that you can provide to your health care provider to assist her in providing this information to your employer.

The EEOC’s guidance also has helpful information on the privacy rights that the ADA provides to all workers, including workers with mental health conditions. These privacy rights can be particularly important for workers with mental health conditions because of the stigma associated with some mental health conditions. Many people still operate on hurtful stereotypes about people with mental health conditions. They think if you have a mental health condition, you are “crazy” or “mental.”

The Maine Employee Rights Group has decades of experience representing workers with disabilities. If you’re a Mainer and your employer has refused to accommodate your disability or otherwise discriminated against you because of your disability, contact us to learn more about your rights.