Sleep deprivation: Know whether it’s a performance problem or a disability

January 14, 2018 0 COMMENTS

Employers striving for a diverse workforce take care not to discriminate against employees with a disability, but hidden disabilities can be tricky. Supervisors might think they’re dealing with performance problems when they really should be considering whether an employee has a disability protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Tired woman in the office

Sleep deprivationwhich the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deems a public health problemcan pose such a dilemma. Workers in every field can suffer from a lack of sleep for any number of reasons, but shift workers are particularly susceptible. The summary of a study the CDC published in March 2017 says the duration and quality of sleep has “a direct effect on worker health and safety.”

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EEOC alleges medical exams and questionnaires violate ADA, GINA

November 19, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Courtney Bru

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) limits employers’ ability to make disability-related inquiries or subject employees to medical exams. You may not take those actions until after you’ve offered the applicant a job. Once a conditional offer of employment has been made, you may ask about medical conditions or require a medical exam, as long as you do it for all individuals in that job category. If the inquiries or exam screens someone out because of a disability, you must demonstrate that you rejected him for a reason that is “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” Generally, you must show you had a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that his ability to perform the essential job functions would be impaired by his medical condition.  Health history form

EEOC: Standards, inquiries used to discriminate

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5 tips for accommodating depression, PTSD, and other mental illnesses

October 15, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Mark Wiletsky

An estimated 16.1 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2015, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). That number represents 6.7 percent of all American adults who are 18 or older. Seven or eight out of every 100 people will have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives, says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Center for PTSD. That number increases to somewhere between 11 and 20 out of every 100 veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.  Head with gears

As the numbers show, depression, PTSD, and other mental illnesses are relatively prevalent in our society. At some point, you will be faced with an employee who suffers from a mental condition. You need to know your obligations with regard to potential accommodations for employees with mental disabilities.

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Top 10 employer mistakes in accommodating disabled employees

September 17, 2017 1 COMMENTS

by Matthew A. Goodin

Even experienced HR professionals have a difficult time with requests for reasonable accommodation from disabled employees. This process is even trickier if the employee needs a leave of absence as an accommodation because of the intersection of different laws that govern leaves of absence. Below are some of the most common mistakes employers make when accommodating employees with disabilities. Recognizing and avoiding these mistakes will go a long way toward preventing unwanted litigation.    TOP 10. Rainbow splash paint

1. Not having adequate job descriptions

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Employer can insist that ‘doctor’s note’ come from a doctor

July 16, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Jennifer Suich Frank and Samuel D. Kerr

Q One of our employees went to a holistic healer who isn’t a certified healthcare practitioner, and he advised her that she needs a week off work. He won’t write her a doctor’s excuse and will only speak to someone via telephone. Our attendance policy states that missing that much work requires a doctor’s note. Are we violating the employee’s rights if we discipline her for an attendance policy violation?  Woman lying face down having cupping acupuncture, mid section

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Dealing with hidden disability: Navigating protections for workers with addictions

June 18, 2017 0 COMMENTS

Employers generally understand their obligations related to legal protections for people with disabilities. But not all disabilities are obvious, sometimes not even to those afflicted. Such may be the case when employees suffer from addiction to prescription drugsa problem that’s been in the spotlight lately. And with good reason: The costs employers face related to such addictions are staggering.  Medicine sales man rep offering pills

For example, an analysis released in March claims that healthcare costs for employees who misuse or abuse prescription drugs are three times the costs for an average employee. The analysis is from the National Safety Council, independent research institution NORC at the University of Chicago, and Shatterproof, a nonprofit organization working to end the stigma of addiction and support families dealing with it. The groups have developed a Substance Use Cost Calculator to help employers understand the impact of addiction on their business.

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Service animal or pet? When Rover comes to work

May 14, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Erica E. Flores

For decades, service animals were used almost exclusively to assist the blind and, in that role, were aptly known simply as guide dogs or seeing-eye dogs. But times have changed. Today, dogs and other service animals—including monkeys, parrots, and miniature horses—are being trained to provide a remarkable variety of services to individuals with disabilities. They can alert the hearing impaired to household and environmental sounds, warn epileptics of oncoming seizures, calm children and adults with autism, signal diabetics of changes in their insulin levels, and, increasingly, provide comfort and companionship to people with a wide range of mental and emotional disabilities, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What does that mean for employers?   Pit Bull Wearing Service Dog Vest

Emotional support animals?

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Distracted worker may be entitled to ‘disability’ accommodation

May 14, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Robert P. Tinnin, Jr.

Q One of our workers has been with the company for about three years. From the outset, he has been an outstanding performer. About four months ago, however, he went through a divorce, which appears to have had a major impact on him, and he seems distracted. Both the quantity and the quality of his work have suffered demonstrably. I have given him two written warnings that he must improve both the quantity and quality of his work or face discharge. The last warning was about a month ago, and I have seen no improvement. Can I terminate him now for poor performance?  Group of multi-tasking creative people working in the office.

A Before doing so, make every effort to determine whether he might be “disabled” within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and explore accommodations for his condition.

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Questions and answers on accommodating employees with mental disabilities

April 16, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Jonathan R. Mook

The following article answers some common questions about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) recently promulgated guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and mental health conditions.

Q Why should employers review the EEOC’s mental health guidance?  Head with gears

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Even under ADAAA, being ‘ill-tempered’ is not a disability

April 16, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Rozlyn Fulgoni-Britton

Ever since the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) became law and substantially expanded the definition of “disability,” employers have been warned not to focus on whether an employee has a disability when evaluating reasonable accommodations. While that warning is valid, it is not absolute, and employers should not completely skip evaluating whether an employee has a disability. Even the 9th Circuit, where employees typically fare relatively well, has found that “cantankerous” and “ill-tempered” employees who are disciplined for treating coworkers and subordinates inappropriately do not have a disability that substantially limits the major life activity of interacting with others.  Angry boss

Facts

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