In a hearing recently conducted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it revealed that individuals with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities have an unemployment and underemployment rate that exceeds the national average. Allegedly, only 17 percent of people with disabilities are employed compared to 63 percent of people without disabilities.
People with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities in particular, have a much harder time getting employed because of certain misconceptions about them. For one, most individuals with psychiatric disabilities (i.e. major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia) are perceived to be violent and dangerous in the workplace.
This belief is actually a myth – psychologists have actually stated that violence is rare among people with mental disorders and that being employed is one way of significantly reducing the possibility of violence.
Also, there is a common perception that people with intellectual disabilities (i.e. cerebral palsy, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)) are a liability at work. Most employers think that the medical condition of intellectually disabled applicants or employees would result to expensive accommodation or undue hardship, a higher insurance rate, and even more missed days of work.
These misconceptions against mentally disabled employees, if made the basis for adverse employment decisions (like failure to hire or firing the employee), can give rise to a disability discrimination complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Intellectual and psychiatric disability is protected under the ADA, so even if the qualified individual with a mental disability takes medication to control the effects of his or her medical condition, he cannot be treated unfavorably on the basis of his condition.
If you have more questions about disability discrimination, call the Mesriani Law Group for expert legal advice at our hotline number: 1-866-325-4529 or visit us at 12400 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 810 Los Angeles California, 90025.