Manic-depressive: ADA or not?

Doe this fall under ADA ? We are under 50 employees, so I know FMLA doesn't apply. One of our employees is manic-depressive, is supposed to take his medicine ( but I don't think he does ), and drinks off the job. On the job,
yesterday, we had to send him home -as his condition presented safety issues
as he operates machinery. The factory supervisor gave the employee a warning about attendance. This employee may be terminated by the VP.Please advise.


  • 10 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Yes, mental illnesses such as depression or bi-polar disorder, are covered by the ADA. This means you have an obligation to go through the interactive process and see whether you can come up with a reasonable accommodation for the employee. Remember, even though you are not covered by the FMLA, giving a disabled employee a leave of absence can be an accommodation under the ADA that you might consider. Have you ever done that in the past for other employee illnesses? If so, you should certainly consider that now.

    Anne Williams
    Attorney Editor
    M. Lee Smith Publishers, LLC
  • Also, California disability regulation are more liberal than the ADA so any lawsuit will probably be filed under state law, not the ADA, and the liability will be who knows what.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 01-08-03 AT 09:03PM (CST)[/font][p]California Fair Employment and Housing law as it covers California's ADA provisions, basically provides that a medical condition that meets the State's definition of a "disability" only need to impair (not significantly) impair one or more major life activities. Also, the state law just requires that the medical condition impairs the emplyee's ability to do his or her job WITHOUT
    reasonable accommodation for it to be a disability.

    The actual provisions in the State's law is in the Government Code, the Fair Employment and Housing Act.


    California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing has some information on the anti-disability in discrimination provisions, reasonable accommodation
    and risk issues. An emplyer may consider the emplyee not qualified for a job if he or she presents an immediate and substantial danger to him/herself or others in the performance of the job. But it has to be more than speculative and potential.



    And take a look at EEOC's guidance on psychiatric disabilities and reasonable accommodations. I think it will provide very good guidance on how to deal with psychiatric disabilities and reasonable accommodations and the risk issue. Just remember that in California, the threshold is lower for a medical condition becoming a disability and requiring reasonable accommodation and the assessment is made without regard to medication or other remedial measures. It has been said that just about any medical condition could qualify in California as a disability even though it wouldn't under federal ADA.

    Look at the discussion in the EEOC Guidance on Direct Threats.


    Since you have identified that the employee is manic-depressive, I assume your company is either regarding the employee as having the psychiatric condition or has verified it through medical documentation. You're not required to disregard documented and valid safety issues if the employee would present an immediate, substantial danger to himself or others in the performance of his duties even if they are caused by a disability.
  • What if one of the owners of a smalll company suffer from this - do we have any recourse? It affects our daily "life" in the company
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 01-09-03 AT 10:19AM (CST)[/font][p]How small? For us in California that is 5 employees. I think that the ADA is 15. The laws cover all employees in an organization, subject to the size of course. Since the person with the illness is an owner there isn't much that can be done, if the person isn't taking care of themselves. Chances are the issues of accomodation etc. won't even come up.
  • We have 8 full time and two part time. This includes two owners, who are also employees, of course. We are in Minnesota.
  • Even if the company owner suffers from Manic-Depressive episodes, it will not excuse him or her from comply with employment laws in regards to the employees.

    Good Luck!
  • Hatchetman hit it on the head. You're already saying that this employee has Manic-depression. So, start the interactive process. And as stated, consider if this employee is a direct threat to himself as well as others!

  • This is a pretty old thread that I'm just reading. My word of caution would be that if you are proceeding toward somehow impacting the company owner's comfort level, the 'direct threat' will likely be toward YOU!

  • Yes, I realized that so am letting it go. Thanks
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