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Approximately one in five adults in the U.S. live with a form of mental illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they’re so common that over 50% will be diagnosed in their lives. If you’re reading this article, chances are you might be looking for legal recourse to deal with employer retaliation or inaction at your company. At Mann & Elias, this is one of many cases we’ve taken on and successfully won for our clients.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Before we go into detail on mental illness and how to address it in the workplace, let’s discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It was established to protect disabled persons and those with mental illness from unfair treatment. This law offers protection from discrimination, victimization, and harassment.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are protected during all stages of employment – from the interview process to being a full employee. Paired with the ADA, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations when requested. As long as it is a reasonable adjustment that would not cause undue hardship for other employees or the company, there should be no complications.
The Protections Offered to Employees
An employment attorney would tell you that there are several laws and policies in place that protect those with certain characteristics from biased treatment at work. The ADA is just one of them safeguarding you from hardship because of your:
- Gender, sex, sexual orientation
- Pregnancy or maternity
- Religious or non-religious beliefs
- Marriage or partnership
Mental illness falls under disability, depending on one’s diagnosis. If you’re unsure, a disability discrimination attorney can help determine whether you are entitled to the accommodation you require.
What Does Disability Mean?
The term disability is defined differently, pending the context of the legislation. Under the ADA someone has a disability if they’re suffering from physical or mental impairments that limit their ability to do a major life activity like reading, writing, using the telephone, or carrying out basic tasks.
Can I Sue Over Being Fired Because Of a Mental Illness?
In California it is illegal for an employer to fire you because you have a disability. It is within your right to hold them accountable if they do. As an employee, you do not have to disclose your illness to the company nor endure retaliation for coming forward.
There might be circumstances where you come forward to address your mental illness or other disability-related concerns. If so, the employer can only ask you job-related questions to ensure your line of work is not posing a risk to your health or the safety of others. In that case, the approach would be different.
For us to hold the employer accountable for any misconduct, we would need to prove they were:
- Aware of your mental illness
- Failed to provide an accommodation or leave, or
- Acted with malicious intent
You have 300 days from the date you were discriminated against to file the charge to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Only then can we proceed to obtain a right-to-sue letter if the case doesn’t settle.
About Mann & Elias
The Law Offices of Mann & Elias is an employment law firm that provides guidance and legal support for individuals facing issues in the workplace. We represent clients at every level of the state and federal court systems in lawsuits regarding discrimination, wrongful termination, unpaid wages, and more. When your case is in our hands, we hope to minimize stress and concerns associated with work.
Workplace disputes and negotiations can be complicated and uncomfortable between an employee and employer. In many cases an employer can retaliate, causing individuals to feel that they are at a great disadvantage in the company. When you retain one of our lawyers, you will be well-protected and advised. While there are thousands of lawyers to choose from, we strongly believe our success is based on:
- 50+ years of trial experience
- Excellent advocacy skills
- Intense preparation and research
- Quality care
Since our partnership began over 20 years ago, we have settled hundreds of claims, completed 100 jury and bench trials, and recovered more than $18 million in settlements. In the end, our goal is to understand what you need and achieve the best outcome for you by focusing on those needs. For dedicated representation with no upfront fees, give us a call at 323-866-9564 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.