Imagine you’re reviewing an employee’s performance for the past six months, and he suddenly reveals he’s been suffering from severe migraine headaches that impair his ability to concentrate.

Wow. You were about to give him an Unsatisfactory rating, which is the first step out the door in your organization. But now you don’t know what to do. You realize that what he’s got may add up to a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and you’re worried that if you give him the rating his performance warrants, you may be breaking the law.

Are you?

Actually, no. The ADA doesn’t require that you ignore poor performance by employees with disabilities.

The law also doesn’t oblige you to:

  • Raise a performance rating, or in any way give an evaluation that doesn’t reflect actual performance, or
  • Withhold disciplinary action, including termination, if it’s warranted by the poor performance.

But – and this is important – in the situation above, the ADA may require you to offer an accommodation that helps the employee improve his performance, and thus avoid being dismissed another six months down the road.

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