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Does the ADA protect workers with mental health conditions?

Milwaukee employers and employees alike generally understand that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits workplace discrimination based on physical limitations. But does the ADA also protect workers with mental conditions from discrimination and harassment?

An employment law attorney writes in a leading newspaper that generally, yes, the federal law provides the same protections for physical and mental disabilities. He notes that both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and courts have ruled that many mental health conditions are considered disabilities under the ADA.

He adds that the EEOC says employees are entitled to reasonable accommodations for "any mental health condition that would, if left untreated, 'substantially limit' your ability to concentrate, interact with others, communicate, eat sleep, care for yourself, regulate your thoughts or emotions, or do any other 'major life activity'."

For those who might be wondering what constitutes a reasonable accommodation, it is broadly defined as "some type of change in the way things are normally done at work." The EEOC says changes in worker supervision, schedules and work spaces are among common accommodations.

"The takeaway," the New Hampshire employment law attorney writes for the Union Leader, is "that the EEOC has an expansive view of what constitutes a disability and what workplace accommodations employers must offer disabled employees." Employers should engage with the employees to determine what accommodations suit the person and situation.

Companies are urged to "use extreme caution" before denying accommodation requests.

It should be noted as well that legal options are available to employees whose employers disregard the law. You can speak with a Milwaukee employment law attorney about your situation and options.

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