ADA warning for bosses: You’re not qualified to diagnose employees’ mental illness

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The ADA protects employees with mental health problems from discrimination. That makes it dangerous for managers to engage in armchair psychology. Sometimes, all it takes to launch an employee lawsuit is for someone in authority to assume that a transient problem such as depression might recur, or that employees who take psychiatric medications can’t do their jobs.

Either way, it’s a mistake to treat the employee as if she will become disabled, especially if an ill-informed assumption leads to termination.

Recent case: Mary, an Erie firefighter, used considerable FMLA leave when her mother went into a long, painful physical decline ending in her death. Mary didn’t take it well and became depressed. She took more time off, using accumulated sick leave and other time-off programs.

However, when Mary was supposed to return to work, she never showed up, nor did she answer her phone. Her supervisors became concerned and went to h...(register to read more)

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