In guidelines issued in 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission affirmed that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you simply because you have a mental health condition. This includes firing you, rejecting you for a job or promotion, or forcing you to take leave.
Protections against mental illness discrimination in the workplace in Ohio are primarily guaranteed by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. An earlier law, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, also applies specifically to disability discrimination by employers such as schools and nonprofits that receive funds from the U.S. government.
The ADA makes it illegal for any private company with more than 15 employees and government agencies of any size to deny job opportunities to people with diagnosed mental health conditions. Job protections under the ADA also extend to people with suspected mental illness and to individuals who care for those with mental or intellectual disabilities. The ADA bans direct and indirect mental health discrimination in the workplace.
ADA protections apply during all phases of recruiting, interviewing, hiring and employment. Regardless of their diagnosed or presumed mental health, a person who has the education, skills, and experience to do a job must have equal access to applying, obtaining an interview, getting hired, and qualifying for benefits, training, raises, and promotions.
The ADA makes it illegal for employers to ask about mental health issues on applications or during job interviews. Additionally, managers and supervisors cannot do the following things:
The ADA gives an employee the right to request an accommodation if they can
An accommodation can be requested while applying and interviewing for a job, as well.
Employers must consider requests for accommodations in good faith and engage an employee in a discussion of how necessary the accommodation is and whether it can be made in a reasonable way at a sustainable cost. This is called the “interactive process.” The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides this list of accommodations that should generally be granted:
Workers also have the right to file complaints about mental illness discrimination and to use continuous or intermittent Family and Medical Leave Act leave to deal with mental health issues. Importantly, employers cannot retaliate against workers for requesting an accommodation, reporting discrimination, or asking for and using FMLA leave.
If you have experienced mental illness discrimination in the workplace in Ohio, consider reaching out to an ADA lawyer at The Friedmann Firm. Based in Columbus, we advise and represent workers in employment law cases all across Ohio. You can schedule a free, confidential consultation online or call us at (614) 610-9755 to set up an appointment.