Physical injuries and illnesses, and the way that they affect a person's ability to do their job, tend to be easy to understand. For example, if a construction worker has injured their back, it is easy to see why they will not be able to continue their job, and why they should subsequently be deserving of disability benefits.
When a person is suffering from a mental illness such as depression, it can be equally as difficult for them to carry out their job. However, many people suffering from mental illnesses find it difficult to gain sympathy and recognition from their employers. Mental illness under the law is essentially treated on equal terms as any debilitating physical condition. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to understand your disability rights as a person suffering from depression.
Understanding whether you are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that protects disabled people from being discriminated against by their employers. You can be covered by the ADA if you have a physical or mental impairment that affects one or more functions in your life. Additionally, you can be covered if you have a history of suffering from a disability, or if you are perceived to have a disability.
What rights do I have to disclose my depression and to have accommodations made?
If your employer asks you directly if you have a mental illness, they are breaching the law. They do not have the right to ask questions such as this. However, you may want to voluntarily disclose this information, especially if you believe that it would help your employer to understand recent work absences or low performance.
You also have the right to have reasonable accommodations made in order to help you work to your best ability. For example, you may reasonably request to work from home one day per week if it is appropriate for your job. If this does not have a negative impact on your employer, this accommodation should be considered as reasonable.
If you want to make sure that your rights are recognized as an employee suffering from depression, it is important that you take action to understand California law.