Workplace discrimination can be blatant and obvious. Discrimination can also be subtle and difficult to pin down. When surveys question employees as to whether they have faced discrimination in the workplace, many ask whether or not participants perceive that they have been discriminated against or been the victims of a hostile work environment.
Questioning one's perception does not undercut the concept of discrimination. Rather, it highlights the fact that discrimination can be difficult to identify, and therefore, difficult to allege.
A recent survey conducted by an international research team questioned individuals in 35 countries about their perceptions regarding discrimination in the workplace. More than a third of survey respondents indicated that they had essentially been exposed to a hostile work environment due to their mental health issues. A quarter of participants had avoided applying for a position at some point due to fear of such discrimination.
These results indicate that a significant percentage of individuals suffering from depression worldwide either perceive or anticipate discrimination in the workplace due to their mental health issues.
In the United States, people with mental health issues may be protected from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other state legislation. It is important that individuals with mental health issues who perceive that they are being discriminated against at work or in the hiring process contact an experienced attorney with any questions they might have. Though speaking out against discrimination may be difficult, it is important to avail yourself of your legal rights and protections under the law.
Source: MedicalXpress.com, "Over three-quarters of people with depression report discrimination," Oct. 17, 2012