Millions of people in the U.S. who have mental health issues are able to live happy and successful lives. However, people whose mental health conditions are severe may have difficulty in meeting their basic needs, including finding and keeping jobs.
Most employers in the private sector employee people on an at-will basis. This means that they are able to fire employees for almost any reason and at any time. However, businesses are not allowed to fire someone on the basis of a protected status. One of the protected statuses is having a disability. If you are fired because of your mental illness, you may have legal rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler might be able to explain your rights to you and whether your employer fired you in an illegal manner.
Mental illness as a disability
Mental illness can amount to a disability. When your mental illness qualifies as a disabling condition, you may have protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against workers and applicants who have disabling conditions that limit them in at least one area of major life activities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency that enforces the ADA. It says that mental illnesses that fall under the ADA include multiple conditions. These include obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and others.
What is a major life activity?
A major life activity is an important component of daily life. Mental health conditions may affect your ability to communicate with others at your job. Mental illness may also impact your ability to concentrate on your job duties or to learn new work skills. If you are fired because you have a mental illness that makes it difficult for you to perform a major life activity, your termination is unlawful.
The essential job functions
You may be asked if you are able to perform the essential functions of a job on an application. The ability to perform essential job functions includes being able to do so with reasonable accommodations. If you are able to perform the essential functions of your job, your boss cannot fire you simply because he or she believes that you are mentally ill. If you request a reasonable accommodation, your employer must provide it to you as long as it does not create an undue hardship.
If you are simply overstressed, that will not qualify you for protection under the ADA. If your employer is able to show that you have performed poorly at your job, and your poor performance supports the reason for your termination, your discrimination claim will likely fail.
Contact Swartz Swidler
If you have a mental health condition and are fired from your job, you may be able to recover compensation by filing a discrimination charge against your employer. Contact the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler today to schedule a free consultation.