Most managers and supervisors are not educated on the triggers that could signal an employee’s need for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. By not training these key players on how to recognize situations when the ADA could be in play might lead to major and costly consequences.
4 events to watch for
Managers should be on alert for these situations. If they do arise, they should talk to HR who will decide if the company should start engaging in the interactive process and/or consider additional leave as a reasonable accommodation.
- An employee needs to take time off, but isn’t eligible for FMLA or company leave.There isn’t an eligibility period for ADA accommodations, so if an employee has a disability, you may have to grant leave as an ADA accommodation.
- If an employee exhausts FMLA and/or company medical leave.There are plenty of cases of employers that wound up in legal trouble for automatic termination policies where employees were fired after exhausting a predetermined amount of leave. After all, one of the major impacts of the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) was that fact that automatic termination policies became illegal.
- If an employee — even one who hasn’t been on leave — presents a “doctor’s note” about his or her needs.Any time an employee offers written documentation about a condition from a health provider, employers should be prepared to explore the ADA accommodation process. Almost everything could be a disability under the ADAAA.
- If an employee explains that his or her absences and/or performance issues were related to an illness.Some examples:
- I’m sorry I’m making so many mistakes, but I just can’t concentrate since my doctor put me on a new medication.
- My doctor told me it would be hard to lift things for a few days after my physical therapy visits.
- I have to go to the bathroom every hour or so because of my illness.