Can you be fired for mental illness by your employer? There are many aspects to consider before knowing what the answer to this is for every individual. Having a mental health disorder can cause a person to have some difficulties related to their job, but having a mental illness is not an automatic reason for a boss to fire someone. In this article, we explore how mental illness should not affect a person’s ability to get and hold onto a job. As well, we look at treatment for various mental health disorders that can improve not only the person’s health but their ability to do their jobs.
Defining What a Disability Means
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990. This important civil rights law prohibits discrimination against people who have disabilities. This ground-breaking law offers protection against discrimination based on gender, race, color, age, religion, and more. The ADA covers businesses that have 15 or more employees. This includes local and state governments, employment agencies, and labor unions.
A multitude of conditions and situations fall under the heading of “disability”. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Hearing loss or deafness
- Low vision or blindness
- Difficulty with mobility which requires a walker, cane, or wheelchair
- Cerebral palsy
Someone wondering “Can you be fired for mental illness?” should know that many mental health disorders are covered by the ADA. This makes sense because it is estimated by the Department of Labor that most employers have at least one employee who has a mental illness. Types of mental illnesses that fall under the heading of a disability include but are not limited to:
- Anxiety disorders
- Panic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Traumatic brain injury
Can You Be Fired For Mental Illness By Your Company?
If an employee has a mental illness, the employer must provide reasonable accommodations for them. Options for this include a flexible workspace, scheduling changes as needed, certain kinds of time off related to mental health needs, and modified breaks during the day.
Each individual should be hired or fired based on their qualifications, their performance on the job, and their value to the company, regardless of any disabilities. In other words, an employer cannot reject an applicant or fire them solely because they have a mental health disorder. They also cannot discriminate for this reason when it comes to giving raises or promotions and providing training.
Keep in mind an employer must be made aware of an employee’s disability. The employer usually cannot be held responsible for not offering fair accommodations for a disability they do not know an employee has. A request for accommodation can be made to a supervisor, another person in a managerial position, or an H.R. representative. An employer may ask for documentation to prove the disability. This need only be presented as a note from a doctor or other provider confirming the disability. The employee does not need to provide access to their entire medical history.
An employer can fire someone with a mental illness if they have exhausted opportunities to provide appropriate accommodation for their condition. In other words, someone who has received what they need in terms of accommodations for a disability but still does not perform their jobs adequately can be terminated. As well, an employee who poses a threat to the safety of their co-workers can be let go for that reason.
How Is Mental Illness Treated?
Because so many types of mental illness exist, a variety of types of treatments are available to help the diverse population of people who experience them. The first factor is what type of treatment program a person needs. Some people benefit from moving into a residential facility for a period of time. This allows them to receive concentrated care day and night while they work on being able to return home.
Another option involves attending outpatient treatment. This level of care requires a person to attend therapy sessions anywhere from one to seven days a week, depending on their particular needs. Options include regular outpatient programs (OP), intensive outpatient programs (IOP), virtual IOP, and partial hospitalization programs (PHP). As a person improves their mental health, they often transition from residential or PHP down to lower levels of care like IOP or OP.
Someone attending an outpatient treatment program often enjoys a flexible schedule. As a result, they may be able to still work while getting the help they need. The individual can discuss what schedule works best for them in an attempt to build their therapy appointments around adequate time to meet their employment duties.
Begin Treatment for Mental Health Disorders in Atlanta Today
When someone develops a mental health disorder, it can impact many areas of their lives, including their jobs. When someone struggles with this issue, it can add to their stress levels if they wonder, “Can you be fired for mental illness?” New View Wellness in Atlanta provides an effective program for treating several types of mental illnesses. Our outpatient care options help people understand how to improve their mental health and deal with challenges it may cause in the work environment.
Would you like to find out more about how you can improve your mental health? Visit our admissions page now and get the answers to all your questions.