Disability Based on Personality Disorders and Anxiety
Workplace Discrimination Attorneys Assisting Employees in New York City
In 2007, a study funded by the National Institute on Mental Health determined that about 9.1% of American adults have at least one personality disorder. Personality disorders are enduring patterns of inner experience and behavior that deviate in a marked way from the expectations of the individual's culture, are inflexible and pervasive, develop in adolescence or early adulthood, are stable over time, and result in impairment or distress. Often, bipolar disorder or anxiety are comorbid with personality disorders, and they may also cause substantial distress and difficulty. At Phillips and Associates, our New York City disability discrimination lawyers may be able to help you if you experience discrimination or harassment due to a mental illness or a disability based on personality disorders, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.
Disabilities Based on Personality Disorders, Mood Disorders, and Anxiety
An employee's personality disorder, mood disorder, or anxiety may be effectively treated through psychotherapy and medications. Since the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not have a list of specific medical conditions that are considered disabilities, some people with personality disorders, mood disorders, or anxiety will have a disability under the ADA, while others will not.
Under the ADA, someone has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially restricts at least one major life activity. You can also be disabled if you have a record of that type of impairment or if you are regarded as having such an impairment. Thus, for example, if you have a history and record of severe manic and depressive episodes as a person with bipolar disorder, you may be considered disabled simply because you have a record of that type of impairment, even if you are in a period that is unaffected by those episodes. Similarly, if a supervisor perceives you to have a personality disorder, makes regular harassing comments, and treats you differently with regard to your employment as a result, you may be considered disabled under the ADA.
State and Local Laws
The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law also prohibit disability discrimination. The former defines a disability as a medical, mental, or physical impairment that results from neurological, genetic, physiological, or anatomical conditions that stop the use of a normal bodily function or that are demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques. It also includes a record of this type of impairment or the perception of such an impairment. The requirement that you be able to demonstrate your disability through a medically accepted clinical or lab diagnostic technique can make your case a little more challenging than it would be under local law. Also, in another contrast to a claim under local law, you bear the burden of showing that you would be able to perform the job if you were given a reasonable accommodation.
The New York City Human Rights Law is the broadest of the three laws. It prevents discrimination based on an actual or perceived disability, and it establishes an obligation on the part of employers to provide reasonable accommodations to enable someone who is disabled but able to satisfy the essential prerequisites of the job to do the job, when the employer knows about the disability. Disabilities under New York City law include any psychological or mental impairment, such as a personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, or a record or history of having these. The impairment does not need to be demonstrated by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques under the city law. Furthermore, unlike with state law, the employer has the burden of proving that you could not do the job even with a reasonable accommodation.
A reasonable accommodation is a change in how things are usually done in the workplace or the work environment that would allow a qualified disabled worker to do their job. An employer is entitled to ask some questions to figure out whether a reasonable accommodation can be provided, and it does not need to provide the specific accommodation that is requested. The employer may ask you which limitations you are experiencing, how the limitations affect your job performance, whether specific job tasks are made problematic due to the restrictions, and which accommodations are available to reduce your problems.
Many people with personality disorder, anxiety, and bipolar disorder face difficulties when dealing with emotions. They may need the presence of a support animal, or they may need more flexible breaks than other employees. They may need to be able to make phone calls during work hours. They may need job restructuring to modify any tasks that exacerbate their symptoms. They may need unpaid leave for counseling, or they may need to be able to work from home at times. In some cases, other people in the workplace may need disability awareness training or sensitivity training to encourage appropriate social interactions in the workplace. It may be enough for an employee not to attend otherwise mandatory work-related social functions and holiday parties. Under the New York City Human Rights Law, all accommodations are presumed reasonable unless the employer can show that providing the accommodation would cause an undue hardship.
Special concerns may be raised when there is a disability based on personality disorders, bipolar disorders, and anxiety, since these can affect interactions within the workplace. People with personality disorders may have trouble getting along with other people or following the rules of the workplace. For example, an employee who has schizoid personality disorder may treat clients or coworkers in a way that seems rude. Or, for another example, if you have a paranoid personality disorder, you may often feel like your coworkers are looking for ways to sabotage you.
Employers are entitled to enforce conduct standards, and it can be challenging to understand when an employer’s action crosses the line from enforcing workplace policies to being discriminatory. As a result, it is very important to consult an attorney about your specific situation.
Consult a Knowledgeable New York City Attorney About Your Workplace Rights
At Phillips & Associates, we may be able to help you if you are concerned about workplace discrimination or harassment related to a disability based on personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or anxiety. We can develop a strategy to pursue damages on your behalf. We represent people in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties and in New Jersey. Contact us at (866) 229-9441 or through our online form for a free appointment if you were fired or mistreated because of your disability. We charge no upfront fees and recover compensation only as a percentage of a settlement or verdict for you.
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