Meeting your ADA requirements starts with a simple chat
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Meeting your ADA requirements starts with a simple chat

ADA requirements for the Interactive Process.
Do you know what the Interactive Process is? If not, it’s a good time to learn about ADA requirements – before an employee comes to you with a disability issue.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) obliges employers to try to accommodate disabled employees so they can do their jobs, as long as the accommodation is reasonable.

Arriving at an accommodation that works for the employee and doesn’t seriously inconvenience the employer may take some discussion. That’s what the law calls the Interactive Process. Most of this discussion will be between the employee and HR. But the first indication that an accommodation is needed often comes out of a talk between employee and supervisor, and supervisors must know what to do then.

As an example of what not to do, let’s look at a recent case in Oklahoma. A high school science teacher who had contracted polio as a child was being reassigned from a counseling position to a classroom. The only science classroom available was too cramped for the walker and wheelchair the teacher needed. When the teacher asked her school principal about an accommodation, the principal said none would be made.

Failure to accommodate
Big mistake. Although the teacher took the matter up the command chain to the schools superintendent, the discussion never overcame its bad start and she ended up quitting in frustration. She sued for failure to accommodate, and the court said she had a case.

Takeaway: If an employee comes to you with a health problem that could amount to a disability, acknowledge this as a request for accommodation – even if the employee didn’t use the word. Don’t say yes or no. Then get HR involved immediately.

Cite: Lowe v. Ind. Sch. Dist. #1 of Logan County, OK, No. 08-6231, 10th Cir., 1/25/10
photo credit: basykes


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