ADA guidelines for compliance and accommodations are ever shifting

by on January 21, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Easy ADA Compliance

Do your supervisors know how to handle requests for ADA accommodations from disabled workers? If not, your company may be liable under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A customer service rep whose cysts caused him back pain asked to work standing up. It would have been a simple ADA accommodation.

Unfortunately, the rep’s supervisor didn’t take the request seriously. Instead, he insisted there’d be no standing on the job.

When the worker complained he got fired. He filed an ADA lawsuit and the employer settled quickly. The man was reinstated. He was awarded $5,000 and back wages. And the employer promised to train its managers in providing accommodations to disabled workers.

Employer biased against mentally ill

When a worker can’t perform the essential functions of his job because he’s living with a severe mental illness, you’d better be sure you give him every chance to recover and return to work before you fire him.

A company terminated a long-time employee shortly after learning that he was being treated in-house for bi-polar disorder.

Instead of giving him a chance to recover, it taped a termination letter to his front door.

But the EEOC stepped in and filed an ADA lawsuit. The company agreed to pay a $91,000 settlement.

Cite: EEOC v. Vos Electronic Co.

ADA compliance is on both sides

When it comes to disability and mental illness cases, sometimes you can’t go strictly by the book.

An employer denied disability benefits to a worker with mental illness because she failed to file her claim on time. The company’s argument: since the worker missed a 90-day notification deadline, she wasn’t entitled to benefits.

The plaintiff claimed in her ADA lawsuit she missed the deadline because of her mental illness. The court sided with her, suggesting that the company had followed the letter of the law but not it’s spirit. Here’s what it said: “But a limitations period may also sometimes serve as a refuge for an inequity, and make the rule designed to prevent inequity the very means for it to succeed.”

The employer failed to get a summary judgment, and now it’ll spend time, money and energy defending itself in the district courts.

Cite: Chapman v. Choicecare Long Island Term Disability Plan, U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, No. 01-7282, 12/3/02.

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