Invisible Disabilities: What’s Generally Protected, What Isn’t and How to Provide Accommodations in Compliance with ADA/FEHA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) cover physical and mental impairments that substantially limit employees from performing major life activities. But, it’s an ongoing challenge for HR that not all disabilities are readily apparent. Mental health related issues, such as those stemming from bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other conditions recognized under the DSM-5, as well as intellectual or cognitive impairments resulting from autism and other conditions, may be invisible. Also, employers often have questions about whether alcoholism or drug abuse may result in protections under ADA/FEHA.

This session will take a deep dive into:

  • The types of protections California employees with “invisible disabilities” may be entitled to under ADA/FEHA
  • Functional limitations employees with invisible, including psychological and cognitive impairments may experience and how to tell if such impairments would impact the ability to perform essential job functions
  • Workplace accommodations a doctor may recommend for someone undergoing treatment for a mental health-related condition, such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • When such accommodations would likely be or not be deemed undue hardships based on California case law
  • How to manage day-to-day productivity and communication when someone is tardy or absent frequently, gets into interpersonal conflicts, has trouble concentrating or following direction without legal missteps under state and federal leave and disability laws
  • How to deal with concerns that a medication an employee is prescribed to treat a mental health-related condition could pose workplace safety risks
  • How to manage GINA and HIPAA-related compliance obligations when communicating with supervisors and coworkers about an employee’s medical condition or accommodation
  • Best practices for dealing with employees struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol