In the March 26, 2021 edition of the Midlands Business Journal, Fraser Stryker partner Kathryn A. Dittrick was quoted an article by Michelle Leach entitled: “After working from home, lawyers turn to implications of return-to-work policies”. In the article, Dittrick discussed employee mental health concerns while many employees have been working from home. “Employers often struggle with the extent they can (and are required) to address the mental health concerns of their employees. Especially during this time when many employers still have a majority of employees working from home, it is extremely difficult to assess the mental health needs of employees and to determine if they need assistance,” Dittrick said. “When employees are physically reporting to work, it is easier to detect if the employee is suffering from a depression, anxiety, or other mental condition.”
Dittrick states that certain mental illnesses may constitute a “disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (“ADAAA”): “If a depression, anxiety, or other mental illness is severe enough to constitute a “disability” under the ADAAA, this triggers an employer’s duty to provide reasonable accommodations to the employee, if doing so would enable the employee to perform the functions of his or her job and not pose an undue hardship on the employer.”
“While employers are not legally required to accommodate mental wellness issues if the condition does not rise to the level of a disability, they are going to have a more content and productive workforce if they go above and beyond what the law demands,” said Dittrick. She recommends that employers enroll in a strong Employee Assistance Program (“EAP”), run by a third-party provider, that can be offered to employees. “Our society tends to have a hyper focus on privacy and confidentiality and loses sight of the fact that employers are legally required to engage in the interactive process with employees to determine if and what type of reasonable accommodation may be required to enable the employee to perform the job.”
Kate Dittrick has devoted her entire practice to Labor and Employment Law issues, with an emphasis in wage and hour matters. Ms. Dittrick’s practice focuses on preventing claims and defending employers in litigation. Ms. Dittrick provides a wide range of advice and counsel to employers on how to avoid lawsuits and administrative charges. Ms. Dittrick provides a variety of training for managers and supervisors on best practices and legal implications of their actions.
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