Depression and other mental illnesses can qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Even though clinical depression is recognized as a disability under the ADA, not everyone who suffers from depression is protected. The ADA defines disability as any mental or physical impairment that substantially limits major life functions. So, to receive an accommodation, you must show that depression is causing substantial impairment in your life.
Depression affects everyone differently, and because of this, ADA laws and guidelines are applied by the courts on a case-by-case basis. Also, the ADA asks employers to consider how depression might affect individual employees’ ability to perform at work before taking action.
How Depression Affects Daily Life
According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is a mood or temperament disorder that leads to a constant feeling of sadness accompanied by other symptoms. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that depression is persistent and can affect your thoughts, behavior, mood, and activities.
In addition to disrupting daily life, depression can also cause severe symptoms, including lack of energy, loss of appetite, trouble thinking, feelings of hopelessness and despair, suicidal ideations, loss of interest in usual activities, and loss of concentration. All of these symptoms can hinder your ability to perform daily tasks.
When Is Depression a Disability?
Depression only counts as a disability if it affects your daily life or substantially limits a major life function. Clinical depression is recognized as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but not everyone who has depression is covered.
Life activities include major functions and tasks that are basic to everyday life. Significant life activities impaired by physical disabilities are: walking, standing, hearing, and seeing. Those affected by mental impairments include: communicating, eating, sleeping, thinking, self-care, concentrating, interacting with others, and regulating emotions.
According to the ADA, a person is substantially limited if their ability to perform these functions is compromised or limited compared to others. When determining substantial limitations, your employer must consider the duration, condition, and manner in which you do the activity.
In short, to receive accommodation for clinical depression, you must demonstrate the following criteria:
- Experience impairment in bodily functions or major life activity
- Have a perceived impairment by others
- Provide an official record of your impairment
Contact a New York ADA Lawyer
The ADA recognizes that clinical depression is a serious condition; however, if it doesn’t inhibit your ability to perform major life activities, you may not be entitled to protection. If you suffer from depression and need help seeking a reasonable accommodation, a New York Disability Lawyer can help.
Contact the New York Disability Lawyers at Mizrahi Kroub for guidance. For more information, call (212) 595-6200 and learn how our legal team can walk you through your legal recourse to ensure you get the accommodation you deserve.