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A Common Form Of Workplace Discrimination

When you are the victim of discrimination, there will always be at least a few people who advise you to just accept your fate. The "don't rock the boat" advice might be a misguided attempt to protect you, but just as often it will come from people who secretly (or openly) believe that it is OK to discriminate. In general, it seems as though fewer people are being told openly that they should just accept illegal discrimination. Perhaps the last area where victims are often told to keep quiet is in cases of mental illness discrimination.

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) makes it clear that discrimination based on mental illness is a form of disability discrimination. People who suffer from a mental health issue have the same right to participate in the workforce as anyone. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for workers with mental health issues. Employers are not allowed to discriminate, in hiring, promotion or other benefits, against workers simply because they have a mental illness. 

A 2011 study conducted by a Boston University professor found that workers with mental illnesses were regularly targeted for discrimination and harassment once their illnesses became known. Again, it is not a worker's responsibility to hide a medical condition because his or her employer or coworkers are biased. The stigma associated with mental health conditions is incredibly destructive. Employees have the right to be free from discrimination based on any medical condition, including psychiatric illnesses.

Between the ADA and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, workers in this State are protected from disability discrimination. If your employer is refusing to make reasonable accommodations for your illness, or you have been subjected to discrimination or harassment based on a mental illness, you should speak to an attorney who can protect your rights.

Source: The Washington Post, "The workplace is a last bastion of stigma. But even that's beginning to change." by Colby Itkowitz, 1 June 2016 

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