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How to handle mental health discrimination at work

What is the legal definition of mental health discrimination in the workplace?

Mental health discrimination in the workplace is the act of an individual receiving discriminatory treatment as a direct result of a mental health condition that they would not otherwise receive without the condition.

Mental health discrimination in the workplace is illegal under the Equality Act of 2010, which gives employees the right to defend themselves against discrimination based on disability. This covers mental health conditions, as well as physical disabilities.

Under the Equality Act of 2010, discrimination in the workplace can involve:

  • Direct discrimination – this can involve a refusal to employ or promote an employee because they suffer from a mental health condition
  • Indirect discrimination – this can involve insisting that an employee works in a situation that their mental health condition would make problematic, without good reason to do so
  • Harassment – this can involve making offensive comments about the mental illness the employee suffers from to other employees
  • Victimisation – this can involve disciplining or refusing to promote an employee because they supported another employee’s complaints regarding mental health discrimination
  • Not complying with the duty to make reasonable adjustments – this can involve refusing an employee who is struggling in the office permission to work remotely or in a private room during a period of mental illness

What to do if you have been discriminated against at work due to your mental health

Although the experiences detailed above can be extremely distressing, they do not legally constitute mental health discrimination if your employer was not aware that you had a mental health condition.

Therefore, the first thing to do is to ensure that your employer is aware of your mental health condition.

This does not have to be made public in your workplace – you need only speak to the human resources department and they can often remedy the situation without disclosing your confidential information to your supervisor or other colleagues.

If your HR department does not accept that you are facing discrimination because they do not believe you suffer from a mental health condition, you should provide a doctor’s note that includes the following information:

  • The mental health condition you are experiencing
  • The impact that the condition is having on your role in the workplace
  • Any adjustments that could be made to improve your time spent in the workplace

If your employer fails to acknowledge or properly address matters after being provided with a doctor’s note regarding your mental health, it is reasonable to suggest you are facing mental health discrimination in the workplace. In this instance, you should consider seeking legal advice.

How to prove mental health discrimination in the workplace

In order to prove mental health discrimination in the workplace you must first provide evidence that you have received discriminatory treatment as a result of a mental health condition.

The Equality Act of 2010 defines a disability as:

‘A physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities..’

Having already secured evidence of your mental health condition from a GP, these three criteria should be relatively simple to establish in an employment tribunal.

If you have faced discrimination in the workplace due to a mental health condition or have been otherwise harassed, we can help you.

With branches across Essex, the expert legal team at Kew Law can provide you with advice and legal support in your employment dispute from the initial stages of your claim right up to your employment tribunal and beyond.

We will use our expertise to guide you through the process of defending your rights as an employee to secure the most favourable outcome in your case. We also provide no-obligation quotes for all our legal services.

Get in touch via our online contact form or call us on 0800 987 8156 to arrange an initial appointment. We will do our utmost to respond to urgent enquiries within a single working day.

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