The latest draft manual of the American Psychiatric Association recommends that compulsive eating and gambling be recognized as mental “disabilities.” Does that mean they’ll fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The draft “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” contains proposals to expand the category of disabilities to include a number of disorders, including binge eating and pathological gambling. Some have taken that to mean that employers will have to accommodate such disorders, or face penalties under the ADA.
The truth: It’s unlikely, for at least two reasons:
- When psychiatry classifies some disorders as disabilities, that doesn’t automatically mean they’ll fall under qualified disorders under the ADA. In fact, some recognized mental disabilities are specifically excluded from ADA protection, such as compulsive theft and pyromania.
- The proposals are in draft form only, and the psychiatry association has three years to field and incorporate public comment into the proposals. So, nothing will happen prior to 2013, and there could be a host of changes by then.