Adams Keegan Live Webinar | Accommodations in the Modern Workplace
A refresher on addressing employees’ needs under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and more.
Recording Available Below
This month’s live webinar featured a thorough discussion on the scope of accommodations that employers need to make under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, as well as special purpose accommodations for employee wellness.
Our own Charles Rodriguez, Brandon Roland, and Marty Barton led a review into state worksite conditions, documentation requirements and even performance management considerations. Didn’t catch our discussion on March 30? Here’s what you need to know.
What are reasonable accommodations?
The ADA covers organizations with 15 or more employees, whether those team members are at a single location or across different locales. It stipulates that “reasonable accommodations” need to be provided for workers with disabilities that include:
- An employee who has a disability or physical or mental impairment that limits a major life activity
- An employee with a history of such an impairment
- An employee who the employer regards as disabled — and this is even if the employer is wrong, and the employee isn’t disabled
As a demonstration of good faith, you may owe the employee things like job restructuring, providing them with a leave of absence, modified or part-time scheduling, or the ability to do their job remotely. Creating accommodations is an interactive process, and it doesn’t involve a “take it or leave it” situation on the employer’s part.
When an accommodation is being denied, it is on the employer to prove that it is financially or logistically burdensome. We typically warn clients that this is a high bar to clear.
There are also separate conditions for legislation such as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP) Act, which we cover in greater detail within the session.
The importance of setting expectations
As mentioned, creating accommodations involves a two-way dialogue within which both parties mutually agree on the outcome. This doesn’t mean the employee can request absolutely anything, nor does it mean that you are not allowed to set realistic conditions and expectations. For instance, if the accommodation is a leave of absence, how long will the absence be for?
Be compassionate, but don’t be afraid to ask for more details. Even if the ADA technically doesn’t require this, it’s best practice to get something in writing from physicians or other members of a care and support team, particularly when a team member is coming back from leave.