Employers need to be careful about the workplace they provide for workers with mental health problems, including providing accommodations.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a publication available online, “Depression, PTSD, & Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace: Your Legal Rights.” While it is addressed to prospective employees, it also offers helpful information for employers.
- One concern is whether a worker is allowed to keep a mental health condition private. In this case, there is a measure of protection offered to both employer and employee. An employer is able to ask medical questions, including questions about mental health, in the following four situations, according to the EEOC:
- When the employee asks for a reasonable accommodation;
- After the employer has made a job offer, but before employment begins, as long as everyone entering the same job category is asked the same questions;
- When the employer is engaging in affirmative action for people with disabilities (such as tracking the disability status of its applicant pool), in which case the employee may choose whether to respond; and,
- On the job, when there is objective evidence that an employee might be unable to do the job or that the person might pose a safety risk because of the medical or mental health condition.