Organizational response to employment under the ADA of workers with psychiatric disabilities: Four case studies

Patricia J Scott, Florida International University


Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all employers, public and private, with more than fifteen employees to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities if the accommodation would, within limits, allow the individual to perform the essential functions of the job. Seven years after Congress enacted the law and five years after the initial provisions became effective, little information is available about the experience of organizations faced with requests for workplace accommodation. The question addressed in this study is: How are organizations responding to the ADA mandate to fit individuals with psychiatric disabilities in the workplace? The data sources are three organizations that allowed access to this sensitive information, and a fourth that had two disability discrimination charges filed against it. A brute-force case method approach applied to the four organizations yields the following information: Attorneys are hesitant to allow inquiry into company policy owing to fear of litigation; workers are not disclosing and requesting accommodation; tacit accommodation of long-standing employees appears to be a regular practice; knowledge of the intent of the ADA makes a difference in terms of equality of treatment; and insensitivity to employee privacy results in an adversarial situation. Implications are relevant to the need to improve lines of communication between human resource, EEO, supervisory, and legal staff; consequences of failure to address accommodations on an explicit level; need for better understanding of the availability and use of outside resources for achieving accommodation; and improvement of self-advocacy and disclosure by the employees with disabilities.

Subject Area

Public administration|Labor relations|Mental health

Recommended Citation

Scott, Patricia J, "Organizational response to employment under the ADA of workers with psychiatric disabilities: Four case studies" (1997). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9727340.