The prevalence of individuals with psychiatric disabilities may surprise you. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 20% of the U.S. population has a psychiatric disability diagnosis. Individuals with psychiatric disabilities make up one of the largest categories of disability covered under the ADA.
2. Individuals with psychiatric disabilities are not more likely than others to be violent in the workplace.
Applicants or employees who have a history of addiction but are not actively addicted to a substance or engaging in the activity to which they are addicted cannot be treated differently than other applicants or employees.
4. Employees who use illegal drugs cannot be terminated because this would be discrimination under the ADA.
Employees undergoing treatment for an addiction can have a right to an accommodation in order to participate in treatment. However, employers do not have to accommodate the effects of the alcohol abuse itself. For example, employers would not have to modify a schedule in order to accommodate an employee with a hangover. But employers may discipline or terminate employees whose on-going alcohol abuse impacts their conduct, according to a fair and uniformly applied policy.
6. An employee who first discloses a psychiatric disability during a termination action cannot be fired because this would be discrimination.
Sometimes work leave is the only accommodation option. Often, however, other accommodations may enable the employee to remain engaged in the job or return from leave earlier. Consider accommodation options such as working from home, modifying schedules, changing work location or changing non-essential job functions. For more information, go to the Job Accommodation Network at www.askjan.org.
8. Individuals who are diagnosed with a psychiatric disability rarely return to full productivity at work.
A common myth around psychiatric disabilities are that people never recover. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, the vast majority of individuals with a psychiatric disability lead productive lives. With better treatments, enhanced public awareness and less shame, most individuals with a psychiatric disability return to full productivity in their work lives.
9. An employee with a psychiatric disability cannot be held to the same performance or conduct standards that are applied to other employees.
Employees with any disability, including psychiatric disabilities, can be held to the same performance or conduct standards as other employees. But they may need to use an accommodation to meet this performance standard.
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.