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What Is Mental Health Discrimination?

October 4th, 2022
Philadelphia Employment Attorneys at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Represent Workers Who Have Experienced Mental Health Discrimination.

Over the years, considerable progress has been made in the way society and the health care industry recognizes and treats mental health disorders. There are significantly more treatment options available, and while the stigma surrounding mental health conditions has not disappeared, it is far less widespread. Unfortunately, people with mental health disorders are often discriminated against in the workplace, either directly or indirectly.

While it is against the law for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of a mental illness, it can be difficult to prove. If you have been the victim of discrimination in the workplace as a result of a mental illness, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced lawyer who will protect your legal rights.

If you suffer from a mental health illness, it is important that you are aware of the different types of discrimination that can occur, and the steps you can take if you are the victim of mental health discrimination in the workplace. The following are common examples of mental health discrimination:

  • Hiring discrimination: It may be in your best interest to disclose the fact that you have a mental illness, particularly if you require certain accommodations to help you carry out your job responsibilities. However, your employer may not ask you questions related to your mental health during the interview process, nor can they turn you down for the job after finding out about your mental illness.
  • Harassment: There are still people who feel threatened or uncomfortable about people who have a mental disorder. Often, these people resort to name-calling, mimicking behaviors, using inappropriate or offensive language about mental illness, and making a co-worker who has a mental illness feel uncomfortable or threatened.
  • Denied opportunities: In some cases, employees suffering from mental health disorders may be denied certain opportunities. For example, if you become extremely anxious at the thought of getting on an airplane, you may choose to pass on the opportunity to attend a conference that would require you to fly. However, your employer may not force you to attend or penalize you for not going due to your severe anxiety.
  • Termination or demotion: You may have to face some ongoing challenges related to your mental health, including adjusting to the side effects of a new medication, or needing to take a day off to see your doctor or manage the effects of the illness. If your employer terminates you or demotes you for any of these reasons, you may be the victim of discrimination.

What Steps Should I Take if I Have Been Discriminated Against at Work?

Fortunately, there are steps you can take if your employer or another co-worker has engaged in discriminatory behavior against you. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provide protections for workers who suffer from mental health disorders. For example, according to the FLSA, an employer may not pay you less for doing the same job as another co-worker simply because you have a mental health disorder.

While it is not in your best interest to become aggressive or hostile, you can take the following proactive steps to address the issue:

  • Make an informal complaint. The first step is to address your concerns with the person who has discriminated against you. Provide specific examples of actions they did or something they said that was offensive or discriminatory.
  • File a formal complaint. If you are unable to resolve the issue informally, you can lodge a formal complaint by following your company’s official grievance procedures. Depending on your company’s procedures, you may be required to participate in a mediation process. Make sure that you have evidence of the harassment, including copies of emails, text messages or voicemail messages, as well as accounts from witnesses who can corroborate your claim.

Philadelphia Employment Attorneys at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Represent Workers Who Have Experienced Mental Health Discrimination

If you have been discriminated against in the workplace due to a mental health illness, do not hesitate to contact one of our Philadelphia employment attorneys at The Gold Law Firm P.C. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.

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