Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Should I Tell My Boss About My Mental Illness? Why You Should Not (And Three Times You Should)

A reader at AOL Jobs recently asked:

I have 7 years tenure with my company with great reviews. My last 6 month review I had met expectations in every area. I am going through a traumatic personal situation. A new manager was hired in October, and she's the one who gave my last review. In January, I disclosed to her I had PTSD. After that she met with me a month later accused me of not working. Took me to regional manager. They said I was making excuses and were disappointed. She recently told me "maybe you can't do this job anymore". She then lied on coaching logs saying I could not do my work. I went out on leave for PTSD. The last day she had me meet her to give me my year review, which stated I was below expectations in every area. When I came back from leave I was put on a performance improvement plan. She continues to lie about my performance. Is there any way to prove discrimination? They put me on an improvement plan for not meeting certain goals, but my counterparts are having the same problems meeting goals. Other counterparts are having even worse issues and are not put on a performance improvement plan. Please advise.

Unfortunately, the stigma associated with any mental illness means most people are afraid to tell their coworkers or boss. When they do, it's all too common to be subjected to sudden criticisms that you never faced before. In this situation, the fact that you had all good reviews before you disclosed your mental illness and were only written up after you disclosed it could be strong evidence of disability discrimination. If you can prove that your performance didn't change, or that your coworkers are failing to meet the same goals as you and aren't being written up, then you should talk to an employment lawyer in your state or EEOC about bringing a disability discrimination claim against your employer.

 In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, my latest piece in AOL Jobs covers why you shouldn't disclose a mental illness or disorder to your employer, along with three times you should disclose it. Read more here.

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.