The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which became law in 1990, defines a mental impairment as any mental or psychological disorder, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.
Excluded in the ADA’s definition of disability are kleptomania, pyromania, sexual behavior disorders, and substance disorders resulting from current illegal drug use.
The ADA prohibits disability-based discrimination in private and public services and facilities, including those provided by federal, state, and local governments. Private employers with at least 15 employees are covered by the law. Exceptions to the act’s provisions are allowed in cases in which a private employer can provide actuarial evidence that complying with the ADA would cause the company serious financial hardship.
The law does not bar discriminatory health or disability insurance policies in which mental illnesses are treated differently from physical illnesses, though several legal challenges have tried to get courts to include this area in the ADA’s purview.
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