Can bipolar disorder be classified as a disability and therefore a worker suffering from it be protected under the ADA?

Occasionally makes it difficult to get along with coworkers if I am in a manic or depressive state. Irritability, argumenting and inappropriate tone or language are often the result when my disease is not quite “in check”. Can I get fired for an outburst with a colleague if I can prove that I was manic at the time?

Asked on March 20, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I believe the actual ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was amended to include bipolar disorders as a classified disability but there may be qualifications to that. If you can show you are covered, the employer must offer you some sort of modifed condition or work environment to allow you to work but again there may be limitations, including you must take medication and the sort. You should consult an attorney who handles ADA matters and see if you would qualify under the act and how you can approach your employer about this issue and how your employer can help make the issue better for itself and for you. Without protection under federal or state laws, you could very well be fired with or without cause and with or without notice.


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