Can I Lose My Job Because of Depression and Anxiety
While battling a serious bout of depression, the symptoms of severe fatigue, foggy thinking, persistent feelings of sadness and despair, for example, can be so debilitating that it can impact one’s ability to perform tasks related to their job. Depression can result in excessive absenteeism that can not only disrupt the employee’s own work flow and completion of projects in a timely manner, but can also detrimentally effect their coworkers who depend on them.
Thankfully, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) has, in recent years, expanded the definition of a disability to include those that might be “invisible,” such as mental health disorders, including depression. The ADA offers certain protections to those whose jobs might be at risk due to a physical or mental disability. There are, however, certain caveats involved that should be considered by employed individuals struggling with depression. When wondering, “Can I lose my job because of depression?” the answer is…maybe.
Informing the Employer About the Depression and Anxiety
By law, employers are forbidden from asking an applicant or an employee if they have a mental health disorder, or any known disability. While it may not be prudent to discuss the depression during the hiring process, especially if you are already receiving treatment for it, once you notice you are struggling to perform routine job duties it is your responsibility to inform them.
By providing the employer with information of your mental health condition, they are bound by the ADA and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to not discriminate against you. According to the EEOC, when an employee informs an employer of their struggle with depression and requests that the employer make a reasonable accommodation for them, the employer is entitled to ask for medical documentation that an ADA disability be substantiated.
What is a Reasonable Accommodation?
One of the rights individuals enjoy under the ADA is that employers make reasonable accommodations for them during their disability. For those with depression, a reasonable accommodation might be asking for a flexible work schedule or to be able to work remotely, for example. Other accommodations might include asking for a quieter workspace, time off for therapy sessions, or an extended leave after hospitalization.
However, employers are also protected. While some reasonable accommodations should be made to assist the employee during their struggle with depression, not all employers must acquiesce to every demand. If the accommodation is considered to be an unfair burden or hardship for the employer, they are protected from legal action. Also, small companies with fewer than 14 employees or that only operate 19 weeks or less per year are exempt from the provisions in Title 1 of the ADA.
Can You Lose Your Job Because of Depression and Anxiety
If an employer has made accommodations for an employee who is struggling with depression, and the employee fails to fulfill their basic job duties to a satisfactory level, the employer can terminate the employee. This pertains to employees who disclosed their mental health disorder, provided medical documentation, and requested and received a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
However, if an employer (of 14 employees or more) was not willing to provide reasonable accommodations under the law, and terminated the employee due to an ADA defined disability, that employer would face legal consequences for wrongful termination.
Seeking Depression and Anxiety Treatment Solutions
The Treatment Specialist will connect you to a treatment center for depression and anxiety who will provide guidance. When asking the specialists, “Can I lose my job because of depression” they can inform you of your rights and responsibilities regarding the impact of the mental health disorder on employment. Call to speak with a Treatment Specialist who will guide you to expert mental health treatment providers for your specific needs, as well as conduct a free insurance benefit check. For more information about treatment for depression, contact us today at (866) 644-7911.