The Cornell Just-in-Time Toolkit for Managers

Tips, checklists, and resources to help managers lead a disability inclusive workforce.

Topic #9
An Employee Might Have a Psychiatric Disability or Addiction:
Thinking It Through
1. Individuals with psychiatric disabilities make up about 5% of the U.S. population.
2. Individuals with psychiatric disabilities are not more likely than others to be violent in the workplace.
3. Employers cannot discriminate against applicants or employees who have a history of addiction.
4. Employees who use illegal drugs cannot be terminated because this would be discrimination under the ADA.
5. An employee who abuses alcohol does not have a right to a disability accommodation.
6. An employee who first discloses a psychiatric disability during a termination action cannot be fired because this would be discrimination.
7. Accommodating individuals with psychiatric disabilities can prevent work absence.
8. Individuals who are diagnosed with a psychiatric disability rarely return to full productivity at work.
9. An employee with a psychiatric disability cannot be held to the same performance or conduct standards that are applied to other employees.
10. When a manager knows an employee has a psychiatric disability, the manager should try to help that employee monitor their medications so they can stay productive in the workplace.