Mental Illness in the Workplace

West Chester employment law lawyers advocate for dealing with mental illness on the job.When a worker informs their employer that they are ill, they can experience many kinds of reactions. In the best-case scenarios, the company treats them with respect and offers support. This does not always happen, though. In situations where a worker is dealing with mental illness, their co-workers and supervisors may be less supportive.

Mental health issues impact workplaces and end up costing everyone money. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that individuals suffering from depression cost companies between $17 and $44 billion dollars yearly, plus 200 million lost days of work.

Depression is just one type of mental illness. Many segments of society have a stigma against mental illness, usually because they do not understand it. Although most are familiar with diseases like cancer and heart problems, they are not educated about mental health diseases.

Two Opposing Stories

A young male employee was doing well at his company, but was then hospitalized with bipolar disorder. Upon his return, his colleagues treated him differently by making inappropriate comments and the like. He eventually lost his job. Fortunately, he landed another job at a nonprofit, teaching others about his disorder.

A female employee who was experiencing a mental health crisis needed to take time off. She emailed her CEO, explaining that she needed a few days for her mental health. Her boss replied, commending her. She then tweeted the conversation, which went viral. People were pleased to see that she was willing to be honest about her condition, and even happier that this CEO answered in such a positive way.

Employee Rights

Statistics show that twenty percent of adults in the U.S. have some form of mental illness. The founder and CEO of Mind Share Partners says that almost no one is completely mentally healthy, and this status changes throughout one’s lifetime. Americans spend almost a third of their lives working, and it is inevitable that many on the job are facing mental issues.

These individuals are entitled to certain rights in these situations. A company has to provide the employee with reasonable accommodations for their condition. Employees can also take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if faced with a mental health crisis.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that companies cannot fire employees, pass them over for promotions, or make them stop working for psychiatric reasons. Furthermore, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act specifies that health insurance should provide adequate mental health care benefits.

Helpful Resources

Speaking up about mental health can be intimidating for many. However, there are resources that offer help, like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Consulting with a mental health professional and getting a report is a first step towards solving this dilemma. This can then be taken to the company’s human resources department.

If an employer is concerned about an employee’s mental health, they should contact human resources. It is not always clear that a person is experiencing mental health issues, but if the employer notices behavioral changes, this could be a sign. If these behaviors are affecting the employee’s work, it might be time to seek help.

If you are concerned with a workplace mental health claim, contact an employment lawyer from MacMain Leinhauser at 484-318-7106 or complete our online form. Our office is in West Chester, Pennsylvania, from which we serve clients in Philadelphia, and Chester County.

Employee Appreciation Day

West Chester employment law lawyers can advise you in creating an employee appreciation day.Employers who create a workplace where employees feel appreciated will create a workforce that is more engaged and loyal. Employers should create an environment where their employees feel valued every day. Even though it is highly recommended that employees should feel appreciated every day, employers are encouraged to dedicate one day of the year to celebrate them. Along with other important holidays, employers should also calendar the annual Employee Appreciation Day. This day always falls on a Friday and will be celebrated on the first of March this year.

How to Show Appreciation

Taking employees out to lunch is a standard way to show appreciation. Encourage team managers to take the team out for a celebratory lunch to a nice restaurant or have a luncheon at the office. A celebratory lunch gives everyone an opportunity to socialize and unwind at the end of a work week. Ensure that the luncheon is not about results or performance, but a genuine appreciation of each employee’s contribution to the company.

Sending employees home early is another way to show appreciation. Employees increasingly want a work-life balance and appreciate having extra time to spend with their families. Allowing employees to leave work early gives them an opportunity to pick up children from school, run errands, or indulge in a spa treatment. Giving them extra time for their personal needs will certainly make them feel valued.

Allow them to bring their pet to work. While some employers are allowing employees to bring their pets to work everyday, not all employers may want to implement a pet-friendly policy. However, having one day that employees can bring a pet to work is a great way to show appreciation.  Petting animals can be comforting and having pets around can create a sense of playfulness and relaxation in an office setting.

A Culture of Appreciation

A good way to instill a workplace culture of valued employees is to invest in employees’ growth and wellness.  To this end, employers can provide tuition assistance or financial allowance for continuing education.  Encouraging continuing learning shows employees that the company is interested in their growth and personal satisfaction.  Providing opportunities for further learning and acquisition of skills will benefit individual employees and the company.

Additionally, investing in employees’ health and wellness is a great way to show appreciation. Provide financial assistance with memberships to a gym or yoga studio. Encouraging employees to exercise and engage in stress relief is a good way to create a work force that is healthy and will increase productivity and efficiency.

Employers have a variety of ways to show appreciation to their employees. Employers should create a work environment where employees are respected and valued throughout the year. However, employers should not ignore this important holiday. Employers should express their gratitude in a sincere and authentic manner. A little appreciation will go a long way in creating a happy and efficient work force.

MacMain Leinhauser has experienced attorneys that know the complexities of employment law. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia and Chester County. For inquiries regarding employment-related matters, call us at 484-318-7106 or contact us online today.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Benefits to Employees

Philadelphia business lawyers advocate for social responsibilities benefiting employees.When a company engages in socially responsible activities, employees can benefit. Any effort made by a company to improve their local or global community constitutes corporate social responsibility. The most common acts of corporate social responsibility include donating money to charity, encouraging volunteerism among employees, and implementing environmentally friendly or ethical work practices.

Statistics indicate U.S. corporations give approximately $18 billion to non-profit organizations each year. Companies engaging in corporate social responsibility will often match any charitable contribution made by an employee to designated causes. Company led volunteer programs, including company-wide days of service, are visible acts of corporate social responsibility. Many employers offer both skill-based and non-skilled based volunteer opportunities.

Another type of corporate social responsibility exhibited by employers is the increased use of environmentally friendly practices. Efforts to reduce a company’s carbon footprint, including the creation of company recycling programs and paper-less initiatives, demonstrate a company’s commitment to improving society, as does a company’s commitment to ethical labor practices.

Benefits to Employees

When a company engages in corporate social responsibility, it can have many positive benefits for its employees. Employees often find companies that demonstrate corporate social responsibility are more positive workplaces. When employees see their company engaging in philanthropic behavior, they often become more invested and engaged in their work, which results in employees finding meaning in their work. Research shows 60 percent of employees who expressed pride at their employer’s corporate social responsibility programs were engaged employees. Corporate social responsibility can also help an employee feel fulfilled with their employment.

Employees who volunteer together can develop team building skills that can be used in the workplace. Companies engaging in corporate social responsibility may see an increase in cooperative behaviors among their employees. Employees who believe their employers are doing the right thing become motivated to treat their co-workers in a more respectful and helpful way. Higher productivity of team members and increased creativity are often side effects of corporate social responsibility.

Corporate social responsibility also motivates workers to volunteer and donate more, which often leads to professional and personal growth of employees. Many employees first engage in charitable causes after becoming aware of the charitable work of their employers. Taking advantage of a company’s matching gift program or serving the community as part of group volunteerism can be a direct result of corporate social responsibility.

Other employers report higher employee retention rates after establishing corporate social responsibility programs. Employees are more likely to identify with the company they work for and are less likely to leave the company when the company engages in philanthropic work. Many individuals identify more with their company when it acts socially responsible than when the company focuses only on financial successes. Corporate social responsibility increases an employee’s overall commitment to the company. This can also make a company attractive to prospective employees who are often more eager to join a company that has a history of helping the local and global community.

With offices conveniently located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, the experienced Philadelphia business lawyers at MacMain Leinhauser proudly represent employers throughout Philadelphia and Chester County in a wide range of business matters. Call us today at 484-318-7106 to schedule a confidential consultation or submit an online inquiry form.

Pennsylvania University Faculty and Background Checks

West Chester education lawyers advise education institutions on legal requirements.A relatively new policy requiring background checks be done on employees in Pennsylvania state schools is now being challenged in court. The policy was formed in response to a sex abuse scandal at Penn State. In 1998, a parent reported football coach Jerry Sandusky to administrators for inappropriately showered with her minor son at Penn State. Sandusky continued coaching at the school without any apparent repercussions despite a campus police investigation of the incident and reports of other incidents made by school staff to administrators.

It was not until late 2011 that the coach was arrested and charged with 52 counts of sexual abuse of young boys. The case was based on decades of misconduct where Sandusky attracted young boys through a non-profit he established, where he groomed and abused them for years.

Legislative Response and New University Policy

Allegations of a cover up to protect the popular coach at the expense of his young victims were rampant. In 2015, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education adopted a new policy based on legislation passed in November 2014. The law required background checks be performed for employees and volunteers working in the state university system. It also required all employees, volunteers, and administrators to provide written notice if they are arrested for or convicted of certain misconduct involving children. This must be done within 72 hours of the event.

The law was revised in 2015 to cover a smaller number of employees. The law now applies only to educators teaching minors or college and university faculty who have direct contact with children not enrolled in their schools, such as summer camp students. This language would address the Sandusky crimes where minor children were bought to a university campus. However, the State System chose to keep its broader policy in place, which has been under intense scrutiny.

Court Challenges to State System Policy

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and Universities Faculties (APSCUF) is a union that represents university faculty members and coaches. It challenged the State System’s choice to maintain a broader reporting system than is required by law, claiming the policy exceeded the State System’s authority. APSCUF states the issue should be the subject of contract negotiations between represented university employees and the State System. In contrast, the State System believes it has the right to adopt a policy that is crafted to protect minors from sexual abuse by any of its employees as part of its essential managerial responsibility to protect children.

The first challenge to the policy was considered by the state labor relations board that decided in favor of the union’s position. An appeal to the Commonwealth Court followed. The court upheld the original decision finding that schools can only mandate that background checks and arrest reports be required for teachers who are likely to encounter minor children not enrolled as freshmen or to prospective students touring campus. The case is now scheduled to be heard by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

MacMain Leinhauser provides legal advice to public and private entities seeking to comply with legal requirements. We counsel clients in the areas of labor and employment law, school law, civil rights, and tort matters. To schedule an initial consultation, call us today at 484-318-7106 or complete an online form. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia and Chester County.