Best Ohio Disability Discrimination Attorney Answer: Are short-term or long term mental disorders protected under the ADA? Can I sue an employer for disability discrimination if I am suffering from post traumatic stress disorder? How do I find the best wrongful termination lawyer in Ohio?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is published by the American Psychiatry Association and the source for diagnosis protected through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Newly added mental illnesses include avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder, gambling addiction, normal grief from a death/loss, cannabis withdrawal and forgetfulness due to age.
How does an employee suffering from a newly recognized mental disorder get help at work? Employees covered under the ADA have the right to ask an employer for a reasonable accommodation for their disability. The ADA defines a reasonable accommodation as, “a change in the way things are normally done at work that enables an individual to do a job, apply for a job, or enjoy equal access to a job’s benefits and privileges.” An employer has a right to choose the accommodation if more than one method would meet the reasonable accommodation standard.
Employees can provide information from their health care provider to help the employer find a proper accommodation. Health providers, with the consent of their clients, an provide an employee with documentation discussing the disability as well as suggestions on how to modify the work environment. Employees may be concerned that an employer make an adverse employment action or even terminate employees for asking for an accommodation. As long as an employee can complete the essential duties of their job with a disability, the employer may not make an adverse employment action. An employee who can show that the adverse employment action was based on their disability may prevail in a discrimination action against the employer.
However, there are limitations. To state a claim under the ADA, the employee must show that (1) the employee was an individual with a disability within the meaning of the ADA; (2) the employer had notice of the employee’s disability; (3) with reasonable accommodation, the employee could perform the essential functions of the position; and (4) the employer refused to make such accommodations. But, under the ADA, “if an applicant or employee requests an accommodation and the need for the accommodation is not obvious . . . the employer may request documentation of the individual’s functional limitations to support the request. For example: An employer may ask for written documentation from a doctor, psychologist . . . or other professional with knowledge of the person’s functional limitations.” Moreover, having a mental or emotional disability does not give the employee a free pass to act anyway the employee wants without consequence.
Let’s take the recent example of Brandon Williamson, whose case was decided by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia late last month. Williamson is a United States Army veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury. In August 2011, Williamson to Bon Secours Richmond Health System, Inc. for the position of an x-ray technician position. Once hired, he started working there on an “as needed” basis. Williamson then applied for and was hired as a full-time x-ray technician position at St. Francis Family Medicine Center, a subsidiary of Bon Secours. At that point, with the new schedule, Williamson started to have problems with absences and tardiness, which resulted in written warning from his bosses. In response to the written warnings, Williamson told his supervisors that he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and such accommodation. Bon Secours requested medical documentation to figure out what accommodations, if any, were needed. This apparently angered Williamson, who then threatened to kill several people at work.
I think that we can all see where this is going, but here is what the Court held:
PTSD is a psychological disturbance that manifests in vastly different forms, along a broad spectrum of relative intensity. Bon Secours, upon receipt of Williamson’s request, knew only that: (1) Williamson had self-reported PTSD, and (2) his current schedule somehow aggravated his condition. Understandably, Junod requested medical guidance specific to his psychological needs. The ADA encourages such action; the courts applaud it: “Employers can show their good faith in a number of ways, such as taking steps like the following: meet with the employee who requests an accommodation, request information about the condition and what limitations the employee has . . .” Junod’s request for a doctor’s note did not violate the ADA. …
The ADA does not protect employees who make terroristic threats against the lives of their fellow employees—even if those threats are the unfortunate byproduct of the employee’s disabling mental illness. Williamson provides no evidence that Junod made the decision to fire him on any basis other than the alleged threats to kill his supervisors, blow up the practice, and shoot civilians from a “tall building.” “The law is well settled that the ADA is not violated when an employer discharges an individual based upon the employee’s misconduct . . . the ADA does not require an employer to ignore such egregious misconduct by one of its employees.” Jones v. Am. Postal Workers Union, 192 F.3d 417, 429 (4th Cir. 1999). Because Bon Secours acted permissibly in the face of Williamson’s apparently repeated and violent threats, its decision to fire him does not provide the grounds for a viable ADA failure to accommodate claim.
Okay, so threatening to kill your boss and clients is a pretty clear no-no that should clearly get you fired. But, there are a lot places where the line is not so bright. If you are uncertain whether your boss is interfering or blocking your request for a disability accommodation, or whether you may be facing retaliation for seeking an ADA accommodation or simply for being disabled, then call a disability discrimination lawyer as quickly as possible to help you sort out your situation.
Having to live with a disability is difficult enough without worrying about the effect it may have on your job. If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at (216) 291-4744. The best option is not to wait. The Spitz Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.
The materials available at the top of this page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “how do I get a work accommodation for my disability?”, “am I disabled under the ADA?”, “what should I do if…” or “can my boss fired me for …”, it would be best for you to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to disability discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, attorney, Brian Spitz or any individual attorney.