Use strategies to improve accommodation program
Employers can take steps to improve their accommodation programs in light of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
Beth Loy, principal consultant with the Job Accommodation Network, recommended employers:
- Review job descriptions, qualification standards, and accommodation procedures. The ADA does not require employers to hire unqualified applicants with disabilities nor does it require employers to retain employees who can no longer perform the essential functions of their jobs because of a disability. However, it does prohibit employers from using unnecessary qualification standards to weed out applicants with disabilities, relying on inaccurate job descriptions to determine that an employee with a disability can no longer perform her job, and failing to provide reasonable accommodations absent undue hardship. Therefore, it is important for employers to review their job descriptions, qualification standards, and accommodation procedures.
- Focus on performance and conduct. Employers should focus on any performance or conduct problems that employees have and apply their policies in a uniform manner rather than assuming that a medical problem or disability is contributing to or causing the problem.
- Train frontline supervisors and managers. If nothing else, Loy said, employers should train their frontline to refrain from mentioning medical conditions unless relevant, to recognize accommodation requests, and to remember whom to contact for assistance. Another important reason to train frontline supervisors and managers is to help reduce retaliation claims.
- Document actions and decisions. Because the focus of the ADAAA will shift away from the definition of disability and toward whether employers complied with their obligations, documentation of actions and decisions can be very important if an employee alleges discrimination.
March 16, 2009
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