Can an employer legally discriminate against an employee with a history of mental health problems?

I used to work for a cram school in Taiwan. About eight months in I began having panic attacks, and had to return to my home country to seek treatment - I have been fully recovered (no symptoms) for over a year. I recently tried to apply back to that school, but they specifically cited concerns over this illness as a reason to reject my application. Is that legal in Taiwanese law?

I reckon they wouldn’t have said that outright if they had read Art. 22 of the Mental Health Act.

Patients’ personality and legitimate rights and interests shall be respected and protected, and may not be discriminated against. For patients under stable conditions, it is not permitted to refuse their access to schooling, examination, employment or implement any other unfair treatment for the reason that they ever suffered from mental illnesses.


That is super helpful, thank you. Do you know if it applies to foreign workers?

Also could you link me to where you got this information? Is it in English or Chinese?

It should, along with the Employment Service Act (see Art. 5 and also a few articles of the Enforcement Rules of the Employment Service Act), but I have no experience with this and can only recommend talking to a lawyer, the labor department (and the MOL), whatever the anti-discrimination office is called, and maybe some human rights organizations.

I assume you realize what an uphill battle you’re looking at.

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Yeah, I’m not thinking about suing or anything, but it might be helpful as leverage.

Sorry, I didn’t notice your other question. You can find the laws of the land at, but not all of them are available in English.

Can you just forget about it and get another job?

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I can, but this is something that might follow me around for the rest of my life. I know this company has rejected others for the same reason - it’s wrong.

Also, if they choose to be nasty about it, you may want to see them get fined. :2cents:

That said, employers can always get away with it by making up any other reasons why the applicant doesn’t suit the job, just like what employers do to get away with the accusations of racism, sexism, ageism, etc.

In the email, my employer specifically said “To be honest, I’m concerned the working relationship because of your illness.” Which I think is pretty straightforward.

You may turn the tables on them with the email being a perfect proof of discrimination.

Yes, I can imagine. The first thing though it to negotiate from a place of strength. If you are connected to this place, have friends and family, get another job. Then spend your leisure time going after them.