Are Psychological Conditions Protected under the ADA?
Posted on January 01, 2014
I have an employee with attendance issues requesting special accommodations (she has manic depression with anxiety and sleep-related disorders). Are these conditions protected under the ADA?
Although the ADA protects anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity, this does not automatically mean that all psychological conditions are qualified disabilities. They still require a case-by-case analysis, as many mental impairments are treatable with medication. (In this scenario, we’ll assume the employee has a doctor’s note requesting accommodations, despite any treatment already in place.)
Whether or not you are convinced the employee has a covered condition, it’s always recommended that you go through the “interactive process.” This is a proactive process where you explore job resources, rescheduling, and/or equipment that may be amended to allow the employee to be successful without creating a financial hardship to the Company – and provide a proposal to the employee that you both agree meets her needs. After the accommodations have been implemented, set performance expectations and follow-up with the employee regarding those expectations. If you have made your best efforts to accommodate the employee and the attendance issues still remain, it may be time to draft a severance agreement and look for a replacement. Please contact us before taking any such action though!