News of a former employee of the Rhode Island House Minority office who has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit claiming that Minority Leader (and gubernatorial candidate) Patricia Morgan discriminated against her raises a topic to which our society has perhaps not devoted sufficient debate:
Masciarelli says in her complaint that she suffers from depression, and she alleges Morgan told multiple people she needed to be fired before she was covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Morgan says Masciarelli was fired due to her poor work ethic and she never knew of the woman’s disability. Morgan says she was cleared by the state Commission for Human Rights.
If emotional conditions are going to start carrying the same protections as physical conditions, we’re entering a legal thicket. When a disability is physical, one can more-easily differentiate between employment decisions that have directly to do with an ability to accomplish necessary tasks and discrimination. With emotional conditions, where does a “poor work ethic” end and a protected disability begin?
Indeed, the availability of such protections creates incentive for employees to seek diagnoses, and because psychology is more subjective than physicality, fraud would be more difficult to prove. Even without bringing fraud into the picture, though, doesn’t anything that creates incentive to have a mental health problem make it less likely that the person will overcome it?
How long, one wonders, until people begin to claim that the stresses of their jobs created the hazardous (i.e., stressful) condition circumstances that led to emotional disabilities?