Guidelines Issued for Handling Mentally Ill Workers

<i> From Associated Press</i>

The government has issued a set of guidelines advising employers how they must treat workers or applicants with mental disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance is directed primarily at investigators, lawyers and courts handing employment cases involving mentally ill individuals.

Among the guidelines:

* Employers are not required to lower their standards for performance.

* Employers, however, may have to allow extra time off from work or alter schedules and make physical changes in the workplace for an employee with a mental illness, including major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and personality disorder.


“What we wanted to do in this guidance was to show that the ADA applied to people with psychiatric disabilities just like it applies to people with physical disabilities,” said Peggy M. Mastroianni, the commission’s associated legal counsel. “Our purpose was to demystify the whole subject.”

Mastroianni said the guidelines were issued March 25 in response to the numerous questions the EEOC has received about how to handle workers or applicants with mental disabilities.