Let’s Talk Employment
A Guide for Family Members of Individuals in Mental Health Recovery
What Questions Should I Ask?
- What protections are my family member entitled to?
- What are the important things about the Americans with Disabilities Act?
- How do I help my family member to remain protected after starting a job?
What You Should Know
The commonly known job “protections” specific to people with disabilities are outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Amended Act (ADAAA). This law makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector as well as in state and local governments. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability, who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.
It is important for employees with psychiatric disabilities who want or need accommodations to best perform their job duties to be sure to get documentation from a licensed clinician about the type of accommodations needed and the presence of a disability.
A specific diagnosis does not need to be given to the potential employer. When accommodations are needed, the employee has to present the documentation and also be able to specify the type of accommodations being requested. Assistance from an Employment Specialist may be helpful in suggesting accommodations. Examples of common accommodation include: Additional supervision focused on positive feedback, support and criticism (such as a compliment “sandwich” in which the criticism is wedged between compliments and supports). Modified schedule; Extra support from a coworker “buddy”; Very clear job description with aids like duty check list; Time off to attend therapy appointments; Help with removing distractions.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
For Job Applicants: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits job discrimination based on religion, color, race, national origin, or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants’ and employees’ sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.
Other protections may be found in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as amended, also known as the Wages and Hours Bill. These protections apply to workers in four types of employment. This act regulates wages, hours, bonuses, tips of the workers, and other employment factors.
Benefits related to taking leave are outlined under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which may help employees who have mental health conditions to take time out for their own or family member’s illness/treatment. Under this act, leave may be granted, but the employer and the employee have to be eligible to provide/take the leave. The employee has to provide written explanation of the need for FMLA leave.
Webinar on Job Accommodations from Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation in partnership with the Job Accommodation Network. Joan Rapp and Melodie Whetzel.
Video on Job Accommodations by Province of Alberta
ADA Resources available in each U.S. Region. National ADA Centers provide information and legal advice on individual situations or concerns about rights.
Excellent and informative resource about all aspects of the ADAA, especially accommodations. Job Accommodation Network (JAN) also provides training and consultation for employers, persons with disabilities, providers of services, and others.
Video: Mental Health Conditions and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)