Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), “a reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done during the hiring process.” These accommodations may include:
- 1. “Ensuring equal opportunity in the application process;
- 2. Enabling a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a job; and
- 3. Making it possible for an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.”
While these rules make leeway for employers to offer reasonable accommodations to employees, there are still mistakes employers should avoid and employees need to know in case they happen to them in the case of accommodations.
While HR and management should do everything in their power to make reasonable accommodations for employees who need them, there are common mistakes that occur. The most common include:
- Ending dialogue about reasonable accommodations if no solution can be found.
- Taking a manager’s word that the function of a job is essential.
- Using “undue hardship” too often.
- HR discussing the disability of an employee with a manager.
- Failing to consider other employment laws.
- Rejecting employee requests.
- Failing to properly document accommodations and discussion of such accommodations.
- Using employee performance as a gauge of determining if an accommodation is reasonable or not.
- Not considering reasonable accommodations when the employee doesn’t offer any specific accommodation ideas.
In addition, employers need to be mindful of job descriptions because certain actions may be good-intentioned but not actually be a good idea.
Employers need not remove essential job functions from an employee’s job description–all they need to do is come up with reasonable accommodation to that function. If a job function is not essential, the employer may eliminate it.
In these cases, to avoid the issue, the employee must keep up to date records of job descriptions. In general, job descriptions typically focus on physical requirements like lifting and standing as well as stamina requirements. These are the factors that become problematic when determining reasonable accommodation.
Under the ADA, employees disability status will be dependent on:
- 1. “An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.”
- 2. “An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.”
- 3. “The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as (I) medication, medical supplies, equipment … prosthetics … hearing aids and cochlear implants … mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies; (II) use of assistive technology; (III) reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services; or (IV) learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.”
However, if an employer neglects these classifications or has been found to make one of the common accommodation mistakes, you need legal guidance.
Disability Discrimination Employment Lawyers
As a New York-based employee, you have a right to a safe and accessible workplace. If you believe that you were a victim of disability discrimination or harassment, call Brown Kwon & Lam, LLP today.