The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990 to make American society more accessible to people with disabilities. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment. Understanding the ins and outs of the ADA can be tricky, but accommodations are often simple and inexpensive.
It’s important to be sure that leaders and managers are educated on what the ADA is and its goal to eliminate barriers for people with disabilities. It’s not about “special privileges” — it’s about making sure everyone has equal opportunity. When you learn of an employee’s disability, just remember to move forward in good faith; that’s the most important thing. Have a collaborative dialogue with the employee to make sure you have a good understanding. The purpose of that interactive process is to determine whether an effective, reasonable accommodation can be made.
It’s required to go through the interactive process, even if you don’t think accommodation is possible or if the employee is in the middle of a disciplinary process and near termination. Don’t make assumptions; you need to engage and ask questions. We’re often told not to ask employees about medical conditions or disabilities, and that’s a good rule of thumb most of the time. However, the interactive process is an exception; you can and should be asking questions to understand what the employee’s needs are and what accommodations might be possible.
When considering whether an accommodation is reasonable, don’t focus on expense or how difficult it will be to install a new device. Rather, you should be thinking about whether it requires a permanent change to the employee’s essential job functions. If it does, you still need to go through an interactive process; again, don’t make assumptions.
In this episode’s listener question, we’re asked about making the best of having a micromanaging boss who doesn’t take feedback well. In the news, remote and hybrid work options remain a priority for Gen Z grads and job seekers looking for a post-college career.
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