Common Sense Compliance: Mental Health Conversations

Tasha Patterson@Work

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How Do You Manage Mental Health Conversations to Ensure Compliance?

By Marjory Robertson, Esq., AVP and Senior Counsel, Sun Life U.S.; Abigail O’Connell, Senior Counsel, Sun Life

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with mental or physical impairments that affect their ability to perform their jobs. Employers must engage in a supportive and open-minded interactive process with employees who request accommodations. In addition, the employer must ensure that medical information — including the need for accommodation — is kept confidential.

The ADA prohibits employers from making disability-related inquiries unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity. As a result, it can be challenging to manage conversations with employees about mental health medical conditions in a compliant way given these varied legal requirements. But if employers promote mental wellness benefits and foster a supportive workplace environment, they can help employees in need and maintain compliance with legal requirements.

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