What to do if I have been demoted at work for being depressed

I have performed all of my job functions, never been late, but I am overworked and suffering from depression. I have made this clear to my employer. Shortly after I told my boss that I had seen a doctor to get some antidepressants, he demoted me and told me that they (the medications) were not the answer. I have been told that I can “earn my stripes back” if I can show them “the old James”. But this has only compounded my depression.

Asked on August 1, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you have had performance issues due to the depression or missed work, that would allow them to take action against you; even the protection against disability-related discrimination (see below) does not obligate employers to refrain from taking action against employees who cannot or do not do their jobs. However, you indicate that is not the case. If  you have been performing at work, and if you are under a doctor's care for the depression and the employer is aware of that, then demoting you might constitute illegal disability-related discrimination--employers may not take adverse actions against an employee simply because he or she has a medical condition (assuming the condition rises to the level of being considered a "disability," which you depression may). You may wish to contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state's equal/civil rights division, to see if you have a valid complaint.

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