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Can you be discriminated against for mental health?

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2024 | Employment Litigation

Mental health issues affect millions of people, and society increasingly recognizes their significance. Unfortunately, individuals with mental health issues still sometimes face discrimination.

New York law protects these individuals by considering mental health issues as disabilities and prohibiting discrimination based on this.

New York discrimination laws

The New York State Human Rights Law defines disability broadly to include mental health conditions. This law ensures that people with mental health issues receive the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Discrimination based on mental health conditions is illegal in employment, housing, education and public accommodations.

Mental health discrimination in the workplace

In the workplace, employers cannot treat employees unfairly because of their mental health conditions. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to help employees perform their jobs effectively. These accommodations might include flexible work hours, additional breaks or changes in job duties. Employers must engage in an interactive process to determine appropriate accommodations. However, employees must inform their employers about their mental health conditions to receive accommodations.

Mental health discrimination in housing

Housing discrimination based on mental health conditions is also prohibited. Landlords cannot refuse to rent to someone or evict a tenant because of a mental health condition. Reasonable accommodations in housing might include allowing a service animal or providing a reserved parking space close to the building. Tenants must request these accommodations and may need to provide documentation of their condition.

Mental health discrimination in education

In education, schools must provide equal opportunities for students with mental health conditions. Schools must offer necessary support services and accommodations to help these students succeed. This could include adjustments to test-taking environments or access to counseling services. Schools must develop individualized education programs or 504 plans to outline the accommodations and services provided to each student.

Understanding and recognizing mental health conditions as disabilities promotes a more inclusive society. Laws like the NYSHRL play a crucial role in protecting the rights of individuals with mental health conditions. By prohibiting discrimination, these laws help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live, work and thrive without fear of unfair treatment.