EEOC releases guide for dealing with mentally disturbed employees

EEOC

EEOC releases guide for dealing with mentally disturbed employees

The three biggest things from the guide are
You can’t fire an employee simply because he or she has a mental health condition. Before any negative action can be taken against an individual with a mental health condition, the employer must first determine that the condition renders the employee either unable to perform his or her essential duties, or a safety risk — even if granted a reasonable accommodation.
Employers cannot rely on myths or stereotypes about mental health conditions when deciding whether a person can perform his or her job, or is a safety risk. Employers are required to use only objective evidence.
Reasonable accommodations can be made, altered break and work schedules, the ability to work from home, a leave of absence and/or reassignment. In other words, before taking a negative action against an employee with a mental health condition, employers must explore whether or not any of these accommodations would: help the employee perform his or her essential job functions, and/or present an undue hardship.
After these takeaways, the guides help flesh out what the interactive process should look like.
And in doing so the guides reveal a lot about what employers can and can’t do when employees request an accommodation.
The highlights:
You can ask an employee to submit a letter from his or her doctor documenting that he/she has a medical condition and explaining why he/she needs an accommodation.
You cannot ask a doctor to disclose a patient’s detailed medical info without first obtaining a release from the employee/patient.
You can ask an employee’s doctor if certain accommodations would be effective and/or would meet the employee’s needs.
You can’t require a doctor to provide you with a specific diagnosis. It’s legally sufficient if the doctor only describes the condition in general terms, like “immune disorder.”
You do not have to accept lesser-quality work from a disabled employee, assuming you sought a reasonable accommodation.
Before terminating a worker due to a disability, you must have “objective evidence” that the person’s unable to perform his/her duties or would pose a significant safety risk, even with an accommodation.
You can ask an employee’s doctor if the employee would be a safety risk, even with an accommodation.

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