5 thoughts on “To Disclose or Not to Disclose: Mental Illness at Work

  • June 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    The EEOC interpreted the ADAAA and turned it into a set of rules for employers to follow.

    Unfortunately the EEOC does not seem to know all the niceties of disclosure. If an employee tells you he is sick and has called in multiple times is that a disclosure?

    The EEOC refers people to JAN

    When I asked JAN about an employee who called in sick all the time they told me that was a disclosure. That something is wrong if he is sick all the time and if I chose to terminate the employee may have rights under the ADAAA.

    With this sort of advice circulating why would any employer (other than the government) hire people with mental illness.

    The employee has the EEOC to defend the employees rights but as an employer I have to pay for my own attorneys.

    Until these rules are cleared up I would not hire a mentally ill person. I have depression, OCD, alcoholism, and some other minor stuff and I would not hire someone like me.

    If my alcohol problems returned I can be fired but what if I claim I am missing work due to depression. Now it is a much longer process to terminate my employment.

    These rules need to be better defined. The ADAAA itself says that each case must be assessed on its own merits. This means setting a precedent is very hard. In many ways the ADAAA screwed over a lot of disabled people.

  • June 19, 2014 at 1:39 am


  • June 19, 2014 at 8:28 am

    My experience is that disclosure usually ends badly. I was at a job for 15 years, promoted 5 times. However, my suervisor kept actively driving off and/or flat out firing people with mental health issues. She was having a discussion with me that was very prejudiced regarding mentally ill people and what they were like and how she could spot one. Stupidly, I disclosed. Suddenly all the good reviews disappeared and I was constantly being told I didn’t see the big picture, or understand what was going on, or remember things right, or was getting too emotional. I started forwarding her really abusive emails to a good friend and attorney, just to make sure it was not just “my perception” – another thing this supervisor would say. This friend begged me to sue. I filed a complaint with the corporate compliance department that was ignored. Finally I quit because the verbal abuse became that I began hearing voices telling me to kill myself. I could sue, sure, but then everyone would know my diagnosis.

  • June 20, 2014 at 4:40 am

    I never told my employer out of fear for years I was bipolar. Then one day I decided I’m tired of hiding it. When she asked why I never said any thing I told her I thought I would be treated differently, she said oh that’s why you do this or act like that ? I said yes it is. She told me now I understand it all makes sense. She never treated me different or shamed me or told others, I feel like a huge load was lifted from my shoulders. I think every one should be honest. I will never keep it a secret.

  • July 8, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Years ago I disclosed to my boss; it resulted in persistently cruel treatment because, although I did not know it at the time, her own daughter suffered from the same condition as I do, and unfortunately her daughter was non-compliant in her treatment, and my boss was forced to raise her daughter’s children, in her daughter’s absence. My boss then transferred her rage at her daughter, to ME. I was around the same age as her daughter and she soon became adept at not only terrorizing me psychologically, but she was able to turn some of my co-workers against me also. Fortunately she was NOT well-liked, and my co-workers soon realized her tactics and REFUSED to participate in our boss’s bullying of me. Soon my boss was demoted due to my co-worker’s disclosing to Human Resources, her tactics, but SOME co-workers took my boss’s side. It resulted in a HUGE RIFT in our department. Eventually, I was able to transfer to another department and start over, with a “clean slate”, but I never did THAT again, disclose to an employer, nor would I ever, EVER recommend it. Sorry but the ADA can’t keep you safe from those who have their own agenda to get rid of you or transfer their anger onto you. I would NOT recommend disclosing to: your Boss, your co-workers, or your neighbors, and MOST friends. If you already have a therapist, use that individual to be your sounding board. If you DON’T have a therapist? GET ONE – but don’t, DO NOT, EVER, expect people in the workplace or the neighborhood, to “be there” for you, because when they aren’t? They can do a LOT of damage.


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