Rights for people with mental disability can be a nightmare for lawyers, as well. "In cases that go to litigation, courts overwhelmingly side with the employers," says Deirdre Smith, the director of a legal aid clinic at the University of Maine. "Mental illness is an invisible disability so many places, but not at work, where the emphasis is on social interaction. There you have to be a team player who has good communication skills. Not having these skills is often a characteristic of mental illness."
Job loss leads to low self-esteem
But even workplaces that attempt to accommodate the mentally disabled sometimes have a hard time retaining their employees. Glenn Koons, 50, was working at Staples when another employee learned he suffered from bipolar disorder and started teasing and bullying. Even though Koons had a company-appointed job coach to help with problems like this, he quit. He regrets it now.