Depression in the Workplace: Strategies for Seamlessly Handling FMLA Requests and ADA Accommodations

Medically speaking, the term “mental illness” describes a plethora of mental and emotional disorders ranging from mild anxiety to more serious conditions such as depression that significantly interfere with major life activities including learning, working, and simply communicating with others. Legally speaking, “mental illness” isn’t quite as easy to define, yet employers are expected to reasonably accommodate employees who fall into this ambiguous category.

Depression in the WorkplaceThe issue of reasonable accommodation is nothing new for employers, but changes to ADA regulations have allowed more mental impairments to fall under the protected category, and this new protected class is also entitled to leave time under FMLA.

You now face critical issues such as how to identify depression and other mental disabilities, how to reasonably accommodate those who have mental illnesses, and how to respond to employees who are in a fragile state without giving rise to a disability discrimination claim. Learning how to respond to these situations is a vital part of keeping employees safe and productive — and keeping your organization free from legal entanglements.

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