Meredith Kirshenbaum is quoted in "EEOC Wants to Curb Mental Health Discrimination," published October 2, 2023, in SHRM.org's HR Daily Newsletter.
The article concerns the federal government's crack-down on companies that discriminate against workers because they have a mental health condition.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner Andrea Lucas, the EEOC has seen a significant increase in mental health-related ADA charges over the past decade, even as its total charge receipts across all statutes substantially decreased during that time period.
Individuals with mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia nearly always are determined to have an ADA disability, according to the EEOC. Other mental health conditions may also be considered disabilities.
Since 2018, the agency has resolved a number of cases against organizations for discriminating against employees or applicants with mental health conditions. Ms. Lucas said addressing the nation’s mental health crisis must be a priority for employers across the public and private sectors.
In September 2023, the EEOC released its strategic enforcement plan, which emphasizes the agency’s greater concentration on discrimination against vulnerable populations, including employees with mental health disorders. Other areas of focus for the agency are artificial intelligence, pregnancy and long COVID, as well as the prevention of workplace harassment based on race, nationality, religion, gender, medical conditions and other factors. The EEOC also recently adopted its new strategic plan, outlining the agency’s overarching goals over the next few years. The document has two key objectives for enhancing its ability to identify systemic bias.
“This is a signal to employers that the EEOC is likely to be more apt to pursue cases on systemic discrimination grounds,” said Meredith Kirshenbaum.