Managers and younger employees are struggling to adapt as a generation of people with higher rates of reported mental illness enter the workforce.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, many of these new workers are coming into offices from schools where they received accommodations and are now in a work environment with different legal standards.
Symptoms related to mental illnesses covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act can be ambiguous, unpredictable, highly individualized and often invisible.
Workers are making more requests for accommodations, lawyers say, and more are alleging that they are experiencing discrimination based on mental health conditions.
“Employers who fall back on fears or stereotypes could end up violating the ADA,” says Sharon Rennert, a senior attorney-adviser at the EEOC. A requested accommodation may be unworkable, she adds. For example, if call-center employees are expected to answer 10 to 15 calls an hour, and someone says their anxiety prevents them from answering more than five, the employer might argue that the accommodation deviates from standards that apply to all call-center employees.
“In that circumstance, the employer would have a legitimate reason to say no,” Rennert says. But other, small accommodations like allowing for flexible hours or ensuring that all directions are provided in writing for an employee are more workable.
However, there are instances where an employee doesn’t disclose their condition or ask for accommodations, which can lead to problems if their work begins to suffer, says Domenique Camacho Moran, head of the labor and employment practice at law firm Farrell Fritz PC.
“You can end up in a scenario where someone is about to get fired and it turns out there was a really simple fix and it never came up,” Moran says. Read the full story.