Mental Illness & Intellectual Disabilities Under the ADA and FMLA: Avoiding and Defending Claims

Reasonable Accommodation and FMLA Leave; Expert Witnesses, Motion and Trial Strategies

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Program Materials

This CLE webinar will equip employment counsel with tools to help clients avoid claims based on mental disability discrimination and practical approaches to defend lawsuits under the ADA or FMLA. The panel will provide guidance on best practices that minimize the potential for liability and offer litigation strategies.


Most employers will be confronted with managing an employee with a mental health issue—about 25% of adults experience a mental health problem each year. Such claims have increased in number and complexity due to the update to symptom criteria for existing mental health conditions and new disorders in the DSM-5.

As such, counsel must be prepared to create and implement best practices for handling accommodation requests and engaging in interactive processes in order to minimize risk to clients. Also, employers must carefully balance the rights of other workers with those of mentally disabled employees if they should engage in disruptive or violent behavior.

In situations where litigation is inevitable, trial techniques tailored to the claims alleged are a necessity. Counsel must communicate its client’s position on the existence of a mental disorder to the jury, leverage new summary judgment strategies, and navigate causation issues.

Listen as our distinguished panel first provides attendees with instruction on best practices that serve as a foundation for effective litigation strategies. The panelists will then discuss trial techniques on areas of concern for mental health claims to include jury education, new summary judgment strategies, experts and causation issues.



  1. Best practices
    1. Accommodation requirements
    2. Interactive process requirements
    3. Misconduct
    4. Interplay with FMLA
  2. Litigation strategies
    1. Educating the jury
    2. Summary judgment techniques
    3. Use of experts
    4. Latest developments on causation


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What mental impairments and intellectual disabilities does the ADA now cover?
  • What are the steps for employers in an interactive process for investigating reasonable accommodations? Is cost a consideration?
  • When does the direct threat defense apply?
  • How do the ADA and FMLA overlap and interact where an employee has an intellectual disability?
  • How must counsel communicate with juries regarding mental health claims to include diagnoses and qualification as a disability?
  • What are effective summary judgment and trial strategies? When and how to use expert testimony?
  • How do the recent developments with causation apply to mental health disability claims?


Mook, Jonathan
Jonathan R. Mook


Mr. Mook is a nationally recognized authority on the ADA and is the author of two treatises, “Americans with...  |  Read More

Morris, Frank
Frank C. Morris, Jr.

Epstein Becker & Green

Mr. Morris leads the firm’s Employment, Labor and Workforce Management Practice in the Washington, D.C., office,...  |  Read More

Robbins, Holly
Holly M. Robbins

Littler Mendelson

Ms. Robbins represents employers in all stages of litigation, from administrative proceedings, to discovery and motion...  |  Read More

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