When an employee discloses a disability, typically that triggers employers’ ADA responsibilities.
But what happens when that worker wasn’t officially diagnosed with their alleged disability?
Susan Jones worked as an accounts technician at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Nashville when she let her manager know about her depression and anxiety after her performance began to suffer.
When asked to produce a doctor’s note, Jones did – however the note simply said she was starting a new medication and had “difficulty concentrating,” and her performance should improve in a few weeks.
When Jones’ performance didn’t improve, she was let go. Jones sued, claiming disability discrimination.
But a court ruled in the employer’s favor. It said Jones was never diagnosed with depression and anxiety – she’d diagnosed herself. The doctor’s note made no indication that she had an ongoing mental condition – and workers who self-diagnose their disabilities aren’t protected under the ADA, the court said.
This acts as a reminder to always receive the proper documentation from employees before getting the ADA involved.
Cite: Jones v. Department of Veteran Affairs, 3/15/21.