Don Livingston Quoted in Corporate Counsel on Mental Health Concerns in the Workplace for Employers
Akin Gump labor and employment partner Don Livingston was quoted in the Corporate Counsel article “Be Mindful of Mental Health in the Workplace,” which discusses the options available to employers when evaluating employees for possible mental health issues.
The primary law of concern to employers, the article notes, is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from workplace discrimination based on disabilities. That includes ongoing mental health problems. Livingston, however, said the ADA is not the only concern, for “there are practical issues too.”
While asking an employee, in some cases, about his or her state of mental health is perfectly legal, according to the article, and an important step in determining whether a job can be performed, there is a downside. Livingston said, “the consequences of inquiries can be negative because they can cause people not to seek the treatments that they so need.” Many employees, the article says, could feel they are choosing between seeking help for a mental illness and admitting it to their boss, possibly at the expense of one’s job, versus lying about it and not getting help but preserving the job.