The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that employers with 15 or more employees provide reasonable accommodations to employees with a disability.
Employers frequently are faced with requests for accommodations, and may rely upon myths, instead of law, in making decisions.
Here are some ADA myths busted:
Employers have to take the word of the employee: Employees who request reasonable accommodations can be required to provide medical documentation of the medical condition, the extent to which it impacts the employee’s major life activities and/or bodily functions, and what accommodations are necessary.
This medical documentation can be required before an accommodation is discussed. Most, but not all, medical conditions are considered disabilities under the ADA.
Only physical disabilities are covered by the ADA: The ADA covers both physical and mental disabilities, so individuals diagnosed with bipolar and depression illnesses most likely will be covered, as may those who suffer from learning disabilities such as Attention Deficit Disorder.
Reasonable accommodations include reducing job expectations: If an employee’s job requires that he or she make 15 widgets a day, it is not a reasonable accommodation to reduce the job requirements to, for example, 12 widgets a day as an accommodation.
The law only requires that employers provide sufficient accommodations so that the employee is able to meet the same job requirements as others in the job. The ADA doesn’t require reducing job expectations.
Reasonable accommodations include elimination of essential job duties: If Sally can no longer travel as a result of her job, the law does not require that Sally essentially take a light duty status and not fly as a reasonable accommodation.
If, despite accommodation efforts, Sally still is unable to travel due to an accommodation, she is no longer qualified for the job, and not eligible under the ADA.
If an employee can no longer perform the job duties due to a disability, the employee must be terminated: If an employee like Sally above can no longer perform her job despite reasonable accommodation efforts, the ADA requires that employers consider transferring the employee to a vacant and open position for which the employee is qualified before terminating the employee.
The EEOC, and some courts, take the position…