Posts Tagged Legal

International Day of Persons with Disabilities and the ADA: The Legal Side of Psychological Wellbeing at Work

December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and this year’s theme is “Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all”. Transforming workplaces so that they foster resilience among all employees is a worthy goal – one that both MINES and I share with real passion.

Fortunately, most employers now generally understand the links between employee mental health, productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. This is real progress. Unfortunately, only 15% of supervisors and managers are actually trained in how to recognize and respond to employees who may be struggling. This is a problem that MINES and I are taking steps to remedy through our work with our clients and by offering training and consultations to supporters of campaigns like Colorado Mental Wellness Network’s Mental Health Equality at Work.

Employers do not generally associate the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave Act with psychological or mood-related conditions. This knowledge deficit can be problematic because more often than not an employee will reach a point of crisis before exploring potential job accommodations. By that time, it is often too late to save the employment relationship and everybody loses.

This common pattern of “waiting until a crisis” may partly explain the recent surge in depression-related employment discrimination claims filed with the EEOC. These filings increased by 56% between 2003 and 2013, and the EEOC issued written guidance for employees with mental health conditions, as well as their health care providers, for the first time in December 2016.2016

I train supervisors, managers, and HR staff in how to create psychologically healthy workplaces, how to use accommodations as everyday management tools, and how to comply with the ADA and FMLA. Managers are always happy to learn about low- or no-cost accommodation tools they can use right away, instead of making their employees wait for a crisis to occur before requesting them. And, they are relieved to learn that the ADA does not require the elimination of essential functions – a common yet erroneous assumption.

One of the areas I partner with MINES on is training supervisors how to have the early conversation with employees who may be struggling. This is a skill that does not come naturally to most of us – managers don’t want to pry, say the wrong thing, violate an employee’s privacy, play the role of therapist, or step over a legal line of which they’re unaware. MINES personnel have truly mastered this skill over the years.

Another exciting area of partnership with MINES is providing highly specialized mediation and case management services for the toughest ADA and/or FMLA cases involving mental health conditions. Most ADA requests are not challenging to manage. However, some cases are so complex they require the expertise of seasoned psychologists to provide case management guidance and support. Examples include rare diagnoses, some types of personality disorders, and difficulty in finding the right medication or treatment plan. MINES plays an indispensable role in guiding these cases to a sustainable path forward for both the employee and employer.

Lastly, MINES and I collaborate in providing outsourced disability and absence management services nationwide. When we take on this role for our clients, we are truly in the best position to transform workplaces to foster resilience among all employees.

In closing, I hope everyone will celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities with us, by taking proactive steps to accommodate employees at all levels of cognitive, emotional, and social functioning.

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Judge (Ret.) Mary McClatchey

MINES Consultant

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Your Rights Against Religious Discrimination

 
 

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Your Rights Against Religious Discrimination
October 26, 2011
 

My Mom has always told me not to discuss politics or religion at work and she often reminds me when I have told her about my conversations at work. She disagrees I should be so “open.” I have always had a hard time remembering that everyone doesn’t have such a willingness to share personal information as I do. I don’t get offended if someone doesn’t share my beliefs; I become curious. I want to understand more about that individual.

But this “openness” isn’t shared by everyone so I have to keep that in check. What may seem like a curious statement to me could truly offend someone else. It became clear when my mom said, “You may be okay with it but someone else could strongly disagree with your beliefs and I don’t want you to be affected by that.” I have decided to try and leave my personal beliefs at home but it’s not so easy for others. Please read this week’s article to learn our rights from religious discrimination.


Read more on this topic here…
Britney Kirsch
Account Manager

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Social Media Policies – What Employers Can and Cannot Do

As social media continues to evolve, employers’ rules governing its use in and out of the workplace by employees must continually adapt, not only to keep up with the technology itself, but to ensure those rules are in compliance with the law. The challenge for employers is that the law is ever evolving to keep up with the ever changing technology. Compliance with the law can therefore be a moving target for employers, requiring a great deal of due diligence and good legal counsel.

One of the more recent hot topics has involved whether employers can regulate what their employees say on Facebook. Specifically, the question has been addressed as to whether employees can be prevented from saying derogatory things about their employers on social media like Facebook. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has stated that employers have a right to conduct “concerted activity” with fellow employers. Translated into laymen’s terms, this simply means that employees have the right to discuss their working conditions and compensation with one another and that employers are not allowed to stop it without violating federal law which could lead to stiff penalties.

The big dilemma for employers is defining what constitutes “concerted activity” because it has not been clearly defined by the NLRB. Does this mean employees have the right under federal law to say disparaging things about their employers online? At this point, the answer is unclear. What is clear is that employers cannot make blanket rules prohibiting employees from discussing their work conditions, compensation, or the like on social media like Facebook. Doing so may very well put a company at risk of law suits and harsh federal penalties.

If you’re an employer, you would be well advised to check your official company policies to make sure they don’t contain overreaching social media policies. If you find that they do, it’s in your best interest to make immediate adjustments to ensure you’re in compliance with federal labor law. If you have questions, consult your attorney. An ounce of prevention goes a long way with this issue.

Wade Hardie, JD, MBA
MINES Corporate Counsel

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School’s out for the Summer

Summer is Here!

Even though Alice Cooper’s 70’s hit “School’s Out for Summer” was released almost 40 years ago, it never seems to get old. I have heard it numerous times in recent weeks on the radio. Even iTunes downloads are up as schools close for the summer and kids celebrate.

Summer
means the fun begins for millions of children across America. Swimming, rec centers, movies, amusement parks, concerts, restaurants, and shopping malls are just some of the many areas that will get very busy. Parents have just completed frustrating and time-consuming searches for special daycare arrangements for children who normally are at school. If you are still having challenges finding help, don’t forget that many EAP’s (Employee Assistance Programs) such as MINES’ EAP offer a childcare concierge service. This service provides assistance in finding the help that is needed. EAPs are typically provided as a benefit through your employer.

Summer
also means graduations; kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, trade schools, community colleges and universities. All children and young adults are going through transitions in their lives. While one would suspect there is more pressure on the high school student moving out and going to a university in a distant state, don’t forget the 5 yr old who is going off in the BIG Yellow bus to a school outside of Mom’s sight, for the WHOLE day.  These children, as well as their Moms, can have some anxiety dealing with these changes. It is not uncommon for a mother and child to speak with a therapist who can talk to them about dealing with the anxiety of these great new opportunities. MINES has a number of workshops and programs that are available through parent’s workplaces that will take the edge off of this anxiety before it becomes depression. MINES counselors, therapists and professionals can help to resolve these issues now before school starts again in the fall.

Summer
can also be a challenge financially. The children want to “do something” that costs extra money. Family budgets aren’t prepared for these extra costs. Family vacations are typically taken; and who hasn’t been on a vacation that didn’t cost more than budgeted?  And most importantly, many parents are unemployed or under employed due to these challenging economic times. MINES also has financial and legal assistance programs that can help resolve many types of financial challenges.
MINES is here to help make your summer less stressful, more meaningful, and most importantly, fun. Check out our website http://www.minesandassociates.com to learn more about what we can offer.

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