ADA Law in the Workplace: Where Mental Health Falls
In the second episode of The Mind Itself, Jason Byrn J.D. joins to discuss mental health in the workplace, along with the rules and regulations implemented to allowing equal opportunity. Advocating strongly for the disabled due to his own experiences, Jason went to law school with a purpose. Soon after graduating, he started his firm, was an attorney, and worked in different sectors of helping corporate America handle employees with disabilities. In addition to leading BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin’s disability compliance and inclusion strategies, Jason has served as an outsource ADA compliance officer to hundreds of small and mid-size companies. With experience in disability law and disabilities in the corporate world, Jason brings his expertise in exploring how mental health has become the most popular issue in the workplace that people request accommodations for.
At a young age, Jason dealt with his own struggle. Legally blind, Jason’s life was immediately different from everyone else’s. With struggling in the corporate world, he decided to go in and change that experience for other people. His aim early on was to allow disabled people to be independent in the workplace, while also allowing them to make a living wage and support their own family.
Most of his advocacy was done in the early ’90s, where his main passion was to make a difference in organizations that made employers comply with a certain set of regulations. The goal was to create and establish a centralized accommodation function, allowing for evaluations and explorations for solutions for those employee’s that needed it.
Mental Health Disabilities
When it comes to disabilities and needing accommodations to be fully functional and successful at work, Jason doesn’t just mean physical disabilities. Mental health is one of the biggest problems that Americans deal with today, and Jason wanted to make sure that employees that struggled with non-visible disabilities had the same resources as everyone else.
The main purpose of accommodations is to provide a tool for employees that allows them to be more productive. To be successful, it’s a partnership. The employer must know what exactly the employee needs to be as productive as possible – and that doesn’t mean that the employer has to know exactly what the disability is.
It’s scary taking the first step to getting help, but Jason encourages employees with mental disabilities to use the tools and resources put in place to help them. This not only helps the individual but allows the company to give back to the people that work for them and make it a better overall environment.
Jason advises to create a dialogue with the workplace, communicate clearly, participate in filling out medical documentation, and understand that it’s a productivity tool rather than a solution when understanding accommodations in the workplace.
When it comes to disabilities, each state has its own set of legislations that protect people and allows for assistance. The whole purpose of ADA is to avoid stereotypes and judging, therefore there is a lot of emphasis on protecting the employee with the disability.
Hosts & Guests
Jason Byrn J.D.
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