Before terminating employees, Pennsylvania employers should double-check what the Americans with Disabilities Act defines as a disability. Otherwise, companies could find themselves in legal trouble from employees who feel discriminated against.
The ADA explains psychiatric disabilities it covers under the act as part of its evolving definition of disability. Employees and employers deserve to keep up with the latest developments in the act to protect their rights.
Mental illness vs. psychiatric disability
Before adjusting company policy to match the latest ADA changes, employers must get clear on how the government defines mental illness and psychiatric disability. When used in a medical context, “mental illness” refers to various mental and emotional health conditions. When used in a policy or legal context, “psychiatric disability” refers to disabilities the ADA covers.
Employees with a psychiatric disability covered by the ADA have specific legal rights. For example, companies cannot force applicants or current employees to reveal their diagnoses. Instead, sharing a disability becomes a personal choice. Workers who choose not to share their diagnosis do not bear guilt for “lying” or “concealing” their disability.
Employees protected by the ADA could request a reasonable accommodation at the office. If so, their boss may request medical paperwork concerning the disability without breaking the law or violating the worker’s rights.
Examples of workplace accommodations employees with psychiatric disabilities may request include a less-stimulating work environment, repeated due date and job task reminders and several brief breaks. Some workers with disabilities may request to work part-time until they get used to a new medication.
As the ADA evolves, companies must evolve with it. Keeping up with the latest developments helps workers and companies protect their rights.