The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 6, 2014

Work Advice: A therapeutic revelation?

Q: I recently interviewed an applicant for a food service position for a residential facility. When reviewing availability for various shifts, the applicant mentioned that he had a weekly appointment with a psychiatrist, but not on a fixed day or time. I noted this on the write-up and recommended that we hire him.

My supervisor said he was uncomfortable with the fact that the applicant was seeing a psychiatrist and wanted to know if I had asked why. I told him I did not think it was appropriate or even legal to ask. My boss said that since the applicant brought it up, it was fair game. I told my boss that I have seen a psychiatrist in the past and would not refuse an otherwise qualified applicant based on this information.

Is my boss right? Could I legally ask why an applicant is under a psychiatrist's care?

A: Want to know what I'm "uncomfortable" with? People not seeking treatment they desperately need because they're afraid it will ruin their chances of getting hired.

As with other private medical issues, an employer does not have carte blanche to grill a candidate on his or her mental health — even if the candidate brings it up. Any follow-up questions must be limited to whether and how the candidate can meet specific requirements of the job, with or without "reasonable accommodation." Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), your boss also can't refuse to hire the candidate based on "speculation about future risk, or generalizations about [his] disability," according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In fact, even if the candidate doesn't have an ADA-defined mental health disability, the boss's refusal to hire him merely because he perceives him as disabled would still be discrimination, says Sharon Snyder, of the national law firm, Ober Kaler.

Text Only
  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

  • Career Coach: Bringing a purpose-driven spirit to work

    Increasingly, religious beliefs and practices of employees are becoming more evident in the workplace. Religious diversity and concepts of spirituality are more prevalent in organizational settings.

    July 18, 2014

  • Ask the Mompreneur: It’s best to farm out your payroll

    When my husband and I hired our first employee at our Web development company, we had it easy when it came to doing payroll.

    July 17, 2014

  • Protecting against unnecessary losses

    QUESTION: I run a small bar and grill which is open 7 days a week and have to rely on others for some of the shifts. How can I ensure employees have not become my partners?

    July 17, 2014

  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.
    Workplace distractions are everywhere, especially in an age of social media and open-plan offices. In the face of so much temptation, accomplishing what you’re paid to do can be tough.

    July 16, 2014

  • It could be time for a career coach

    Need a little help figuring out your next career move?
    If you’re putting in the hours and still not seeing the rewards, feeling undervalued or simply striving to be more successful, it may be time to hire a career coach.

    July 16, 2014

  • Your Office Coach: Turn to boss for help with disgruntled underling

    QUESTION: When I joined this company a few weeks ago, I discovered that the person who previously held my position is now working for me. “Sarah” obviously resents my presence and frequently says I don’t have the authority to manage her, even though I clearly do. Her negativity has made my job much more difficult.

    July 15, 2014

  • You are not trusted

    If it seems like employers don’t trust employees - well, they don’t.

    July 15, 2014

  • The Color of Money: Beware of loan-modification scammers

    There are some good things going on in the economy these days. Just like temperatures across the country, the stock market has been hot lately. The economy added 288,000 jobs in June. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent. Yet there are still plenty of Americans who need financial help, especially with their mortgages.

    July 14, 2014

Business Video