Mental Illness Discrimination Claims After the New ADA Amendments

Strategies for Avoiding and Defending Americans With Disabilities Act Claims

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

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Conducted on Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Course Materials

This seminar will outline an employer’s legal obligations when an employee requests an accommodation due to a mental disorder and offer strategies to defend against mental illness discrimination claims.


In recent years, workers requested accommodations for mental illness at an increasing rate under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Such requests may rise with the new ADA amendments effective Jan. 1, 2009. Employers find themselves poorly equipped to respond to this growing trend.

Employers lack clear guidance on which disorders qualify for ADA accommodation, whether employees with qualifying mental conditions can perform essential job functions, and how mental limitations can reasonably be accommodated in the workplace.

Employers must be familiar with the courts’ and EEOC’s interpretations of mental disabilities under the ADA to avoid costly mistakes and litigation.

Listen as our panel of employment law attorneys outlines best practices for employers when responding to an employee request for an accommodation due to a mental disorder and offers strategies for defending against mental illness discrimination claims.



  1. Responding to request for mental illness disability
    1. Confirm existence of disability
    2. “Qualifying disability”
    3. “Substantially limits major life activity”
    4. Determine whether employee is able to perform essential functions of job despite disability
  2. Conduct issues
  3. Employer obligation to provide “reasonable accommodation”
    1. Employee must initiate request for accommodation
    2. Interactive process between employer and employee
    3. Effective and reasonable accommodation
    4. Penalties
  4. Strategies for pursuing and defending against mental illness discrimination claims
    1. Undue hardship
    2. Good faith efforts to accommodate
    3. Effective use of experts
    4. Discovery issues
    5. Other strategies


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • How should an employer respond to an employee's request for accommodation based on a mental condition?
  • What are the employers' responsibilities for providing "reasonable accommodations" to an employee claiming a mental disorder?
  • What are the best practices for employers to defend against discrimination claims?


Carol R. Miaskoff
Carol R. Miaskoff
Assistant Legal Counsel, Coordination
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

She was the primary drafter of the Commission’s guidance on the ADA and psychiatric disabilities. She is...  |  Read More

Stephen P. Sonnenberg
Stephen P. Sonnenberg

Paul Hastings

He has counseled and defended employers in a variety of discrimination matters. He is a former psychotherapist and has...  |  Read More

Jonathan R. Mook
Jonathan R. Mook

Dimuro Ginsberg

He is a nationally recognized authority on the ADA and author of two treatises on the topic. He lectures nationally on...  |  Read More

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