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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EEOC provides guidance on mental health conditions in the workplace

March 19, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Howard Fetner

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued a resource document explaining the rights of job applicants and employees with mental health conditions. The document explains that applicants and employees with mental health issues are protected from discrimination and harassment based on their conditions, may be entitled to reasonable accommodations, and have a right to privacy regarding their medical information.  EEOC-jpg

Background

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Understanding strengths, weaknesses of bipolar employees

July 17, 2016 1 COMMENTS

Disabilities of all types pose challenges for employers and employees alike. As employers struggle to find ways to help employees with disabilities do their jobs, they also must fulfill obligations created by laws designed to prevent discrimination and violate privacy. Like other disabilities, bipolar disorder presents its own unique challengesconcerns that will be explored in a Business and Legal Resources webinar set for July 28 titled “Employees with Bipolar Disorder: HR’s Roadmap for ADA Accommodations and Practical Issues.”  Human Emotion

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, causes people to experience varying highs and lows as well as changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. A bipolar employee may be wildly creative and productive sometimes and disruptive and nonproductive at other times, meaning employers see great strengths and frustrating weaknesses all wrapped up in the same employee.

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EEOC issues new guidance on leave of absence and ADA accommodations

July 17, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Paige Hoster Good

On May 9, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a new guidance document addressing the intersection of employer-provided leave of absence and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This document doesn’t create any new EEOC agency policy or propose any new law. Rather, it consolidates current guidance on the ADA, employer leave policies, reasonable accommodations, the interactive process, undue hardship, and other relevant subtopics.  EEOC-jpg

It appears the motivation behind this document stems from the overall rise in disability-related charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC, which increased over six percent from fiscal year 2014 to 2015. Moreover, recent charges received by the EEOC indicate employers may not know they should consider modification of leave policies as a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s disability.

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Paid parental leave policies gain traction

February 14, 2016 1 COMMENTS

by Kelly Boehner

There is no federal law in the United States mandating paid maternity or parental leave. Currently, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides for 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child or the placement of a child in foster care. Employees are eligible to take FMLA leave if they have been with your company for at least 12 months, worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months, and work at a location where your company employs at least 50 people within a 75-mile radius. The time away from work is unpaid, but companies must continue to provide an employee with the same health insurance benefits during his leave and must place the employee in either the same position or a position with equivalent pay and benefits upon his return to work. Young Asian Chinese family with 5 month old son

State-paid leave

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Managing an injured employee

September 20, 2015 2 COMMENTS

by Al Vreeland

Few things create more headaches in the HR suite than an employee who is injured on the job and then resists returning to work. HR’s headaches are usually centered at the intersection of state workers’ compensation laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A federal judge in Birmingham dispensed a little relief for one employer’s headache, finding it had done all it could to help an injured employee return to workor at least all it was required to do.  Help! I Fell at Work

The basics

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Are you obligated to notify employees of coworker out on leave with contagious illness?

March 15, 2015 3 COMMENTS

by H. Mark Adams

Q An employee recently came to HR and said she has meningitis. She is now out on leave. What is our obligationif anyto notify other employees?  Woman with flu

A As someone who has survived meningitis during my professional career, I have more than passing knowledge about this subject. It’s highly unlikely that any employee diagnosed with meningitis would have the capacity to “come to HR” to tell you she has meningitis and ask for a leave of absence. Given the seriousness and potentially life-threatening nature of the illness, it’s more likely the employee would have been sent straight to a hospital without having the time to tell you anything. So the first thing you should do is send your employee or her healthcare provider the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) medical certification form to be completed and returned within the time allowed to confirm whether she does in fact have meningitis.

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Alcohol abuser creates dilemma for employer

June 15, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Caren W. Stanley

Q We have an employee in a high-risk, safety-sensitive position who recently admitted to extreme alcohol abuse. We are now concerned that he, his colleagues, and our company are at risk because we can’t depend on his work. We’d like to discharge him, but we’re unsure of the legal risks.  DrinkingAtWork

A Unfortunately, this is a common dilemma faced by many employers. The initial question you must ask yourself is whether you are required to provide the employee leave for treatment. Recall that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination against “qualified individuals with disabilities.” An individual is considered to have a disability if he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

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The FMLA turns 20

March 17, 2013 0 COMMENTS

On February 5, 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) became the first legislation signed into law by President Bill Clinton. On February 5, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Act by publishing new FMLA regulations and holding a special event attended by President Clinton, former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, and others who promoted the 1993 statute.

The agency also released “Family and Medical Leave in 2012,” a report on the law compiled for the DOL that reviewed the status of the FMLA in 2012 and opined on proposals to change the law. The report surveyed 1,812 worksites, some covered and some not, and 2,852 employees, some eligible for FMLA leave and some not. Here are some of the facts from the report: read more…