Q. One of our employees physically threatened her co-workers. When confronted about the incident, the employee claimed that her behavior resulted from being bipolar. May we ask the employee to provide medical certification to prove that she is bipolar?
A. Yes. In effect, the worker is requesting a reasonable accommodation in the form of different discipline for threatening a co-worker. You cannot determine the severity and extent of the necessary accommodation without knowing what medical restrictions the employee is under.
With the medical information in hand, you can assess whether the employee is actually disabled within the ADA’s definition.
Your employee likely qualifies as disabled under the ADA. The EEOC’s “Final Regulations Implementing the ADAAA” provides examples of impairments that should easily be concluded to be disabilities, including bipolar disorder.