Mental impairments affect millions of Americans. Nearly 15 million American adults have depression. A further 3.5 million have autism, and tens of thousands have down syndrome. Individuals living with these conditions and other mental impairments are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mental Impairments & the Law
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with a wide variety of mental impairments. These include autism, down syndrome, depression, learning disabilities, etc. In order to qualify for protection, individuals must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Having a record of the impairment.
- Having been reported or regarded as having the impairment.
- Having an impairment that substantially limits the ability to enjoy or conduct major life activities including work.
Under the ADA, employers are prohibited from discriminating during the hiring process if they are aware the individual has a qualifying mental impairment.
Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for a disabled employee so that the individual may perform the essential functions of their job. Such accommodations may include providing flexible hours, modification of job responsibilities, allowing for unpaid time off in the event of hospitalization or incapacity and providing necessary supervision and workplace support.
When Employers Discriminate
Discrimination lawyers can help individuals who have been discriminated against in the workplace because of a mental impairment. There are a number of options available when employers such as Chick-Fil-A or others discriminate because a job candidate or current employee has autism or another mental impairment.
Victims of workplace discrimination may sue for financial damages including lost wages, punitive damages including pain and suffering, emotional distress, the right to reinstatement to their jobs at their present employer, and for reasonable accommodations in the workplace so that they may perform the essential functions of their job.
Discrimination lawyers pursuing discrimination claims against an employer can help individuals gather evidence that shows the extent of the discrimination. Such documents may include medical records, videos of the employer making disparaging remarks, phone records, hiring notes, written reprimands, documented refusals to make accommodations, termination notices, etc.
This information can be gathered and compiled to show that the employer is not in compliance with the guidelines and standards outlined in the ADA and other applicable laws. Individuals must act quickly as charges of discrimination must be filed within six months (180 days) or 300 days of the discriminatory act, depending on whether the charge of discrimination is filed with a local, state or federal agency.