Depression Disability Discrimination

If you experience sadness, loss, anger, or frustration which interferes with your life and your ability to function for weeks or longer, you may be suffering from, or have been diagnosed with, clinical depression. Your depressed mood may be causing you to lose interest in life and feel hopeless. You may feel a severe decrease in your energy and ability to perform the everyday tasks of life and your job duties. You don’t just feel “blue” because some unhappy or stressful situation has temporarily got you down. You know this is something deeper and more troubling, which you can’t shake off, and you may feel you will never pass through it. This may not be just your feelings, but there may also be a link to the biochemistry of your brain. You have trouble getting your work done, or even just thinking about your doing your work tasks that you used to be able to do easily.

Depression is not fun, to say the least. And it does not mean that you have a “weak” character. You have an illness which is just as real as a physical illness which can be seen from the outside. Like physical disorders, clinical depression should not be ignored. You should get psychiatric and psychological treatment. Clinical depression is considered disability the workplace under discrimination law in New York State and New York City, and your employer cannot discriminate against you because of your clinical depression.

People with clinical depression may experience discrimination in the workplace in New York. You may undergo clinical depression condition discrimination at work because your employer doesn't understand you can’t just “snap out” of a major depressive episode.  Even if you are recovering from a clinical depression, or have recovered, sometimes your employer believes that you are more likely to be absent from work or that you won't focus on your job and will perceive you to be disabled, even though you can now can get your job done. Even if you have to be absent from work, and you need to take sick leave, there is a good chance that you will recover, and continue to be a productive employee. Don't give up, even if your depression is having side effects which for the time being affect your ability to work.

You are entitled to a reasonable accommodation for your depression, and your New York employer cannot subject you to disability discrimination because you are suffering from depression. For example, you may request sick leave, work breaks from time to time so that you can regain your composure, the option of working from home, flexible scheduling, restructuring of your job to include only essential functions, employee assistance programs, or telephone calls during work hours to doctors and others who can help provide you with needed support. Your employer must engage in good faith dialogue with you to work out strategies which do not impose an undue hardship on your employer. You should make reasonable suggestions, and your employer should respond in kind. If your employer does not give you a reasonable accommodation, that would be disability discrimination because of your depression.

Nor can your New York employer subject you to a hostile environment because of your depression. That would also be a form of disability discrimination. For example, your employer perceives that you are sad, and your employer makes negative comments about this, or says it will make a bad impression on customers or other workers, even though you are perfectly capable of doing your job with a reasonable accommodation. That would be a form of disability discrimination based on your depression.

Your employer cannot disclose your medical information or records to just anyone. You are entitled to confidentiality in your medical records and information.

If you are afraid to ask for an accommodation, know that your employer cannot retaliate against you for requesting an accommodation.

Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 so that we can review if your New York City employer has subjected you to disability discrimination because of your depression in violation of law in New York State or New York City.