Is Depression Covered Under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a disability is defined as any physical or mental impairment that limits a major life activity. While physical disabilities are much easier to define, mental disabilities can be difficult to understand. Clinical depression is considered a disability under the ADA, but not everyone who suffers from it is protected. In general, the ADA is used on a case-by-case basis. Because no two people are the same, no two disabilities are either. There are many misconceptions about what depression is and how it affects people. Depression is not considered a disability by many, which means that people who suffer from it often face workplace discrimination. However, depression is a serious mental condition that can affect how a person functions in their daily life. In order for a person to be protected under the ADA, they must have at least one of the following:

  • A physical or mental impairment that prevents them from performing a major life activity
  • A medical history of suffering from a physical or mental ailment
  • The perception that you suffer from a physical or mental impairment

While a person with clinical depression may fall under any of these categories, they still might not be protected by the ADA. In order to be protected by the act, the person with depression must be able to prove that their condition hinders their job performance. A factor that may contribute to a person with depression not being protect under the ADA is drug or alcohol abuse. Sometimes people with depression self-medicate, and the ADA does not protect people with substance abuse problems. You employer can only make reasonable accommodations for you if they are aware of your depression. You cannot file an ADA claim against your employer for discrimination if your employer had no way of knowing you were suffering from depression. The ADA does recognize that clinical depression is a permanent and serious condition, but if it does not affect your ability to perform major life activities or do your job, you will not be protected under the act. If you believe that you have been discriminated against, contact the Arcè Law Group today to schedule a free initial consultation. Our employment law attorneys can help you determine if your depression falls under the ADA and then guide you through the process of filing a claim in New York, New Jersey or Philadelphia.

By Bryan Arcé | Published January 10, 2016

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