Strafford Webinar – Mental Illness Under the ADA and FMLA: Avoiding and Defending Claims


Frank C. Morris, Jr., Member of the Firm, will join a panel discussion, "Mental Illness Under the ADA and FMLA: Avoiding and Defending Claims," during this Stafford Publications webinar.

This CLE webinar will equip employment counsel with tools to help clients avoid claims based on mental disability discrimination and practical approaches to defend lawsuits under the ADA or FMLA. The panel will provide guidance on best practices that minimize the potential for liability and offer litigation strategies if a suit is filed.

Most employers will be confronted with managing an employee with a mental health disorder as about 25% of adults experience a mental health disorder each year. Such claims have increased in number and complexity due to the update to symptom criteria for existing disorders and the creation of new disorders in the DSM-5.

As such, counsel must be prepared to create and implement best practices for handling accommodation requests and engaging in interactive processes in order to minimize risk to clients. Also, employers must carefully balance the rights of other workers with those of mentally disabled employees who engage in disruptive or violent behavior.

In situations where litigation is inevitable,trial techniques tailored to the claims alleged are a necessity. Counsel must communicate its client's position on the existence of a mental disorder to the jury, leverage new summary judgment strategies, and navigate causation issues.

Listen as our distinguished panel first provides attendees with instruction on best practices that serve as a foundation for effective litigation strategies. The panelists will then discuss trial techniques on areas of concern for mental health claims to include jury education, new summary judgment strategies, experts and causation issues.


I. Best practices

A. Accommodation requirements
B. Interactive process requirements
C. Misconduct
D. Inter-play with FMLA

II. Litigation strategies

A. Educating the jury
B. Summary judgment techniques
C. Use of experts
D. Latest developments on causation


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What mental impairments and intellectual disabilities are now covered under the ADA?
  • What steps must be taken in the interactive process for investigating reasonable accommodations?
  • When does the direct threat defense apply?
  • How must counsel communicate with juries regarding mental health claims to include diagnoses and qualification as a disability?
  • What trial strategies should be implemented with summary judgment motions? Use of expert testimony?
  • How do the recent developments with causation apply to mental health disability claims?

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