Employer Obligations Towards Employee Mental Health

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CEU Approved | Free Webinar

  • 90 minutes

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A survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans in 2016 found that employers are uncertain about how to help workers with mental health issues because they don’t know how many workers need assistance. Among 247 U.S. employers polled, 64% believed that under 30% of their workers suffered from mental health issues or substance abuse. One-quarter of the employers didn’t know whether their employees were affected at all!

Employers are clearly struggling to identify mental health issues. This lack of understanding has caused numerous unfortunate incidents including the Washington Navy Yard shooting of 2013 (the shooter, a former Navy reservist suffering from paranoia claimed he had been hearing voices and was being treated for mental illness in the weeks before the shooting rampage!) and the Accent Signage shooting of 2012 where a fired employee killed six and whose parents stated that they saw signs of schizophrenia but that the shooter shut out offers of help.

Psychiatric illnesses are not visible – you don’t see the broken leg, feel the forehead for a fever, check an individual’s blood for a white blood count. These illnesses are based on “symptoms” and “behaviors” which are often progressive in nature. Medications to deal with the symptoms or behaviors are very much trial and error. Yet, sometimes individuals with strange behaviors are, well, just strange, and don’t have a psychiatric illness at all. Employers are not psychiatrists but employers are required to accommodate individuals with mental impairments that substantially limit a major life function. How do you know when someone has a psychiatric illness or is just plain strange? And, when someone does have a psychiatric illness, what are your obligations?

Join expert Susan Desmond where you will get to know the ADA requirements regarding mental impairments and the significant mental illnesses and symptoms associated with them and how it applies to employees in the workplace. 

Session Highlights:

  • The ADA requirements with regard to mental impairments

  • The most significant mental illnesses and symptoms associated with them

  • How to hold those with psychiatric illnesses to the same standards as those without these illnesses

  • The interactive process an employer should engage in while dealing with an employee with a psychiatric illness

  • What types of accommodations can an employer expect to be asked to consider with regard to an employee with a psychiatric illness?

  • When can an employer deny an individual employment or accommodation because the individual poses a direct threat to the safety of himself or others?  What do we mean by direct threat?

  • What to do if an employee refuses to take his/her medication

  • Can you force an employee to seek help through an EAP or get an evaluation through a psychiatrist?

Why You Should Attend:

  • Learn the interactive process applied by employers to deal with employees having a psychiatric illness as well as the ADA requirements for compliance

  • Learn how investing in mental health of employees by employers is both ethical and practical that raises overall wellness in the workplace 

  • Real life examples from current cases will be provided 

Who Should Attend: 

  • Human Resource Specialists, Managers, Directors and VPs

  • Benefits Specialists

  • Administrators 

  • Employee Relations Manager

  • Job Placement Specialists and Directors

  • Leave Administrators

  • Business Owners

  • Culture and Organizational Development Managers and VPs 

  • Controllers

  • Managers

Susan  Desmond

Susan Desmond

Susan Fahey Desmond is a principal with Jackson Lewis PC. She has been representing management in all areas of labor and employment law for over 30 years. A frequent author and speaker, Ms. Desmond is listed in Best Lawyers in America and has been named by Chambers USA as one of America’s leading business lawyers for labor and employment law. She is also listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers and Louisiana Super Lawyers.

Employer Obligations Towards Employee Mental Health


Would definitely recommend this webinar. In the world that we now live in the topic of mental health comes up a lot more often and this gave us a general direction to go in. Very informative.

by Diane Cherella

Employer Obligations Towards Employee Mental Health


I was interested in the topic, particularly the nuances about how to handle some of the examples that were cited. My preference would have been to save some of the time on the early slides that discussed the prevalence of specific disorders in the population and spend more time on the workplace impact. The presenter read the slides and added only a little supplemental narrative, but we had printed out the materials and all found ourselves reading ahead to get to the employment examples. Those things said, we found value in the webinar. Thank you.

by Brett Cieslak, City of Dearborn

This webinar has been approved for 1.5 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR™, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®, PHRi™, SPHRi™ recertification through the HR Certification Institute. The use of this seal is not an endorsement by the HR Certification Institute of the quality of the activity. It means that this activity has met the HR Certification Institute’s criteria to be pre-approved for recertification credit.

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