Employees with disabilities – must you tolerate poor performance?
  • leadership
  • Blog post

Employees with disabilities – must you tolerate poor performance?

Most managers know by now that you have to try to accommodate employees who have disabilities. But does this mean you have to tolerate poor performance?

In a word, no.

The issue often arises when a manager makes an annual or other periodic evaluation of an employee with a disability. In that situation, you might well wonder, do I dare give the person the rating I think they really deserve? Or do I have to shade or fiddle with the evaluation to take account of the person’s disability, risking the integrity of my employee review process?

Again, no, you don’t have to fudge the evaluation. You don’t have to… There are three things managers don’t have to do when evaluating employees with disabilities:

  • Tolerate poor performance
  • Raise a performance rating, or in any way give an evaluation that doesn’t reflect actual performance
  • Withhold disciplinary action, including termination, if it’s warranted by the poor performance (as long as you would have disciplined an equivalent non-disabled employee in the same way)

But be careful
A note of caution: Any discussion of employees with disabilities must take into account the question of reasonable accommodation. We’ve assumed that, prior to evaluating and/or disciplining the employee with a disability, the manager and HR have done everything they could to accommodate the employee. But if a further reasonable accommodation could help the employee improve his or her performance, and thus avoid being disciplined or dismissed, you may have to figure out what that accommodation might be, and grant it.

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