Can My Employer Fire Me or Discriminate Against Me Because I Have Clinical Depression?

Depression is a very serious mental illness which is often protected under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and so employers cannot discriminate against you having been diagnosed. If your employer has discriminated against you for having depression and your condition is covered under the ADA, you may have the grounds to sue your employer for wrongful termination or illegal discrimination and collect compensatory damages. The California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group handles cases like depression discrimination and aggressively fights to get you the maximum damages possible. With us, justice is within your reach.

It was not too long ago that depression was thought to be a simple state of mind. That one could tell a person suffering from depression to “just be happy,” to stop that person’s suffering. That it was somehow that person’s own fault for being depressed. Such a mental condition was not considered “real” and so was not protected under any laws. So if an employee was diagnosed with depression and it affected their work, the employer could fire them without facing any legal consequences.

It wasn’t until 2008 that an amendment was added to the ADA which offered protection for “invisible” conditions. Such invisible conditions included depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders that affect people and the way they live their lives. So that means that if you have depression, your employer cannot terminate your employment or otherwise discipline you for having a mental disorder, which classifies under an “invisible condition.” They must provide reasonable accommodation in order give you the ability to perform the essential job functions of your job.

Our attorneys are here to help you get the justice that you deserve. If you believe that you have been discriminated against for having depression, we can help explain your rights and represent you so that you get the maximum compensation for your employer’s disregard for the law. We get asked questions regarding mental conditions; examples of such questions include:

  • Is depression a disability under the ADA?
  • Can I be fired for having depression?
  • I missed work because of depression. Can my boss legally fire me? Can I hire a lawyer to sue my employer?
  • Do I have to disclose my depression to my boss?

What Laws Exist to Protect Those With Depression?
The Americans with Disabilities Act does not allow employers to legally discriminate against employees for having a disability. What is considered, under the ADA, as a “disability” is fairly broad and covers many sorts of illnesses or impairment to give the working people the most protection possible. A person is protected from disability discrimination if they have a physical or mental condition which substantially impairs their ability to perform one or more major life tasks; they have a history of such illness; the ADA also prevents employers from making assumptions about such illnesses.

A major life task are those things which a person does in order to take care of themselves. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, “caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.” For example, if your depression and treatment make it difficult for you to get up and going in the morning, your condition may be covered under the ADA. If this is the case, then your employer must provide you with reasonable accommodation.

What is reasonable accommodation? Reasonable accommodation are those changes to a position or workplace that will assist an employee, who is covered under the ADA, continue to be successful at their job. Your employer is not allowed to make an assumption about your depression, so it is up to you, the “disabled,” to request such accommodation if you require it. So if you find that getting up in the morning is difficult and you are suddenly tardy for work, you may request, as your reasonable accommodation, that your employer allow you to come in a little later to not count your tardiness against you. Flexible scheduling is a perfect reasonable accommodation. It is unlawful for employers to reject your request unless they can prove that making such a reasonable accommodation would cause an undue hardship – larger businesses are generally not exempt from making reasonable accommodations.

Under the ADA, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees whose medical condition is covered under the ADA. Discrimination occurs when an employer or employee is subjected to unequal or different treatment than the rest. This includes employer-to-employee treatment and employee-to-employee treatment. Employees are not allowed to make remarks or offensive gestures/acts to an employee who has protection under the ADA – the workplace must be a safe space for all. This also means that employers cannot use the employee’s condition against them when regarding any progression within the company. If there is a promotion or other benefit, an employer cannot overlook the employee simply because they have depression.

Do I Have to Disclose My Depression to My Employer?
You don’t have to disclose your mental illness to your employer. This, however, will not grant you any protections under the ADA. If you believe that your condition will affect your work performance, it is a good idea to tell your employer and request reasonable accommodation, since employers cannot make assumptions about any conditions.

The employer is required to keep all information that you disclose that concerns the medical condition or history confidential under the ADA. It must be kept so confidential, that employers must maintain any medical information the employee discloses on separate forms and in separate medical files.

How Do I File a Lawsuit Against My Employer for Disability Discrimination?
Our Los Angeles attorneys are always ready to sue all responsible parties to get you the proper compensation for what has happened to you. With headquarters in Los Angeles, our lawyers can handle cases from all over California. Before you can file a lawsuit against your employer, you must first file a charge with an employment government agency. In the state of California, you have two options at both the federal and state level. The federal employment government agency is called the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and enforces the ADA nationwide. You have 180 calendar days to file a charge with the EEOC from the last day you received discrimination. At the state level, you have the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH). Both of these agencies have a work-sharing agreement, which means that a duplicate copy of your charge is sent to the other agency. It’s called dual filing and serves to protect your rights under both state and federal laws. Because both agencies work together, your deadline to file a charge is extended to 300 calendar days.

Once your charge is investigated, you may request the “right-to-sue” letter which then gives you the legal right to file a lawsuit against your employer. It is recommended, however, that you and your lawyer only request this letter when you are ready to go to court because you only have 90 days to take action.

Free Consultation and Zero Fee Guarantee

We at the California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group are here to help you. Our attorneys are aggressive and will fight to get you the most possible compensation that is available to you. We offer free consultation and the zero-fee guarantee. This means that you will not pay unless we win the case! Call us today to see how we can help represent you.