Instant Insights / Mental Health Awareness Month

Employee mental health is becoming an important issue for employers, and one of the ways to help workers is through their employee benefits packages. Here we look at trends, build awareness, and share ideas for benefits managers and brokers.


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Mental health conditions often present in the workplace as performance or interpersonal issues, and employers should exercise caution when addressing these issues. (Photo: Shutterstock)

On April 12, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, a jury returned a verdict that serves as a reminder of the importance of treating mental health issues with sensitivity and consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and taking a practical approach to reasonable accommodations.

The jury in Schirnhofer v. Premier Comp Solutions, Western District of Pennsylvania docket number 2:16-CV-00462, found that the employer, Premier Comp Solutions, had discriminated against the plaintiff, Beth Schirnhofer, on the basis of her mental health disability, and in violation of the ADA. The jury awarded Schirnhofer $285,000 in damages: $35,000 in back pay, and $250,000 in noneconomic damages.

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