Living with a mental health condition is something that about 44 million adults do in any given year. That’s nearly 20% of the country’s population. Sadly, it is an issue that not many people like to talk about because mental illness is still widely misunderstood and carries unfortunate stigmas. If you are among those who struggle with a psychiatric disorder, it is possible that very few people know the courage it takes for you to get out of bed some days.
Nevertheless, just as it is possible for those with physical impairments to find meaningful employment, those with mental health issues are also often successful in obtaining jobs or launching satisfying careers. Also, like someone with a physical impairment, you have the right to seek reasonable workplace accommodations that will help you fulfill your duties effectively, despite your condition.
Your rights in the workplace
If your mental health condition restricts you from participating in at least one important life activity, you may qualify for certain rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. One of those rights protects you from discrimination in the workplace whether you are currently under a doctor’s care for a mental illness or you have a psychiatric disability in your history. Discrimination may include any of the following or other unfair actions:
- Withdrawing a job offer if a medical exam reveals your condition, even though the disability does not pose a safety issue or prevent you from performing the duties of the job
- Refusing to consider reasonable accommodations, such as a more flexible schedule, less distracting work environment or changes in management style
- Applying a code of conduct unfairly against you because of your disability
- Refusing to promote you or allow you opportunities for advancement solely because of your mental illness
- Forcing you to disclose the nature of your impairment
It is your right to keep your condition private during the hiring process and even after you land the job. However, if you plan to seek accommodations, you may have to reveal some information to your employer so he or she can assist you in finding appropriate ways to adapt your workplace situation. Once you have disclosed your mental health issue, be aware of any actions that indicate unfair treatment, harassment or discrimination. Working closely with a California attorney who is knowledgeable in employment law may offer many benefits.