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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Releases Guidance on the Legal Rights of Persons with Mental Health Disabilities in the Workplace

February 27, 2017

The EEOC’s recently released policy guidance titled, “Depression, PTSD, & Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace: Your Legal Rights,” which explains the rights that people with psychiatric disabilities have at work, including potential reasonable accommodations a person with a psychiatric disability could receive.

The guidance states that an employer cannot fire an individual solely based on a mental health condition, unless the employee is a direct threat to safety or there is objective, reliable evidence that the individual cannot perform their job duties because of it. It also explains that a person with a disability can keep their condition private if they wish, and that the employer may only ask questions about their disability in four situations: (a) when the person asks for a reasonable accommodation; (b) after the employer has made a job offer, but before employment begins; (c) when engaging in affirmative action to hire more people with disabilities; and (d) on the job, when there is objective evidence that the person’s condition is interfering with their ability to perform their job. The guidance describes how to get a reasonable accommodation for a mental health condition and gives examples of the different forms of reasonable accommodations a person could receive. Reasonable accommodations could include altered work schedules, a quiet work environment, specific shifts, and permission to work from home. A mental health condition does not need to be “permanent or severe” for the person to receive a reasonable accommodation.

For more information, read the EEOC’s mental health guidance.