ADA Compliant: Employers must help psychologically disabled keep the rules

by on December 15, 2008 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

ADA compliance tips for when this happens

Ever have a troubled employee “go off” at colleagues? Now, the EEOC is suggesting you may have a duty to accommodate such potentially explosive people if they have a bona fide psychological disability.

This view came in a recent Americans with Disabilities Act guidance letter from EEOC.

What it said regarding ADA compliance:

    •You aren’t required to excuse violations of policy – on workplace violence, respect for co-workers and so forth – by employees who suffer from psychological disabilities like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
    •But if you decide not to fire an offending employee, and he asks for an accommodation to help him avoid future violations, you must look for one.

An example: Your employee Mr. X has a medically diagnosed disability that makes him lose his temper. As a result, he yells abusively at a colleague. You decide your policy on courtesy doesn’t require termination for the incident, and you suspend him for a week Afterward, he asks for help in coping with his problem. At that point, the EEOC says, you can’t brush him off.
If you tell the employee the problem is his to deal with, that’s an unacceptable response and you’re violating the American Disability Act.

It’s ADA compliant to let him:

    • take time off to seek treatment
    • take more or longer breaks
    • call a therapist from work, irrespective of any policy on personal calls

In the end, you may conclude such measures would cause undue hardship. If they do, you’re off the hook – but you at least have to consider them.

ADA Guidelines for Managers
EEOC guidance letters respond to an employer’s request for agency comment. They’re not binding, but give insight into the agency’s thinking.

Isssue 6.22 DOP 7-7-08

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