What Is Mental Health Discrimination in the Workplace?

In the modern workplace, mental health has become a crucial concern. Yet, despite increased awareness, mental health discrimination continues to be a pervasive issue. Mental health discrimination refers to the unfair treatment of individuals based on their mental health condition. It is when an employer treats an employee or job applicant less favorably because of their mental illness, perceived mental illness, or history of mental illness.

Mental health discrimination can manifest in various ways. Here are several types:

  • Direct discrimination: This occurs when an employee is treated less favorably, specifically because of their mental health condition. For example, if an employer refuses to hire a qualified candidate solely due to their disclosed mental illness, it is direct discrimination.
  • Indirect discrimination: This takes place when a workplace policy or practice disadvantages people with mental health conditions. For instance, if a company enforces a rule that all employees must work overtime, it might disproportionately affect those with mental health issues.
  • Harassment: This involves unwanted behavior related to a person’s mental health that violates their dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment.
  • Victimization: This happens when an employee is mistreated because they have made a discrimination complaint or supported someone else’s complaint.

Examples of Mental Health Discrimination

The following are examples of what mental health discrimination might look like in practice:

  • Job interviews: An employer might not hire candidates due to their disclosed mental illness, even if they are the most qualified for the position.
  • Promotion and training opportunities: An employer might overlook an employee for promotion or training opportunities because of their mental health condition.
  • Workplace bullying: Colleagues might harass or bully an individual because of their mental health, resulting in a hostile work environment.

Rights of Workers and What to Do if Your Rights Are Violated

In New Jersey, workers are protected under federal laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state laws like the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). These laws prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals based on their mental health condition. Employees with mental health conditions have the right to reasonable accommodations that can help them perform their jobs effectively.

If you believe your employer has violated your rights, you can take the following steps:

  • Document the discrimination: Keep a detailed record of every incident, including dates, times, locations, people involved, and what happened.
  • Report the issue: Report the discrimination to your supervisor, human resources department, or any designated authority within your organization.
  • File a complaint: If the situation does not improve, you may need to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR).

A South Jersey Workplace Discrimination Lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Will Help You Understand Your Rights

Mental health discrimination is unacceptable and illegal. You have rights, and there are resources available to help you. Speak with a South Jersey workplace discrimination lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC today. Call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. With offices in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.