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The Labor & Employment Report

Caffeine Withdrawal a Psychiatric Disorder- Seriously?

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Laws & Regulations, Workplace Trends

I often say (only somewhat flippantly) that we are all disabled, but the newly released fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) seems to really go out of its way to make that point.  The DSM-5, which is produced by the American Psychiatric Association, serves as the authoritative guide on the diagnosis of mental disorders.  This most recent edition includes more than 15 new disorders.  These include such humdingers as caffeine withdrawal, hoarding disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, binge eating disorder, restless leg syndrome, and social (pragmatic) communication withdrawal. (?!!!  I am having an attack of caffeine withdrawal right now.)

Well, that just greatly expanded the number of people who can now claim psychiatric disorders, meaning that they may be disabled within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADAAA).  And if so, employers may see an increase in the number and types of accommodation requests.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that not every psychological disorder is considered a disability under the ADAAA.  The law specifically exempts some disorders – such as sexual behavior disorders, compulsive gambling, kleptomania and pyromania - from coverage.  Others may not qualify as disabilities because they do not affect a major bodily function or major life activity, or may be only temporary in nature.  And even if the condition does constitute a disability, it may not need to be accommodated.  Accommodations are only required to the extent that they enable the employee to perform his essential job functions, and such accommodations must be reasonable in any case (meaning that they do not impose an undue hardship for the employer).

I am now going to get some coffee.