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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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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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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ADA interactive process: When does your obligation to engage begin?

January 15, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Susan Hartmus Hiser

Q We have an employee whose work performance has been slipping lately. We have reason to believe that she is suffering from depression because she was diagnosed as bipolar and had a bout of depression a few years ago that led to a similar decline in her work performance. We allowed her to work a modified schedule for a brief period while she was being treated by her therapist. She hasn’t requested another accommodation recently. Can we discipline her, up to and including termination, based on her performance, or do we need to take steps to address her depression under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?   depressed businessman at office working on computer asking for help

A Both the ADA and many state laws place the initial burden on the employee to inform her employer of a need for an accommodation. However, in the situation you describe, given the employee’s history of depression and her attendant performance issues, a court could find that your company was on notice of her need for an accommodation, even though she didn’t request one. That’s particularly true since she required an accommodation to address her performance issues the last time she had a bout with depression. When an employer has knowledge of an employee’s disability, she need not use the word “accommodation” to trigger the ADA obligation of engaging in the interactive process.

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Are coworkers out to get paranoid employee?

November 20, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by J. Steven Massoni

Mental impairments are some of the most challenging disabilities to accommodate. Read on to learn about how one company managed a difficult situation with an employee who suffers from a mental health disorder and how your company should respond in similar circumstances.  Agoraohobia

Imagine this

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ADA defense: Disabled worker poses direct threat to health or safety

September 18, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Steven T. Collis

You know you can’t discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability. But what if you are convinced the person’s disability would create a significant risk of harm to him or others if he’s allowed to perform the intended job? The “direct threat” defense may help you avoid liability for a disability discrimination claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)Safety Always

Direct threat defense defined

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Employers may be required to accommodate unhygienic employees

August 14, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Deanna L. Forbush

Most employers have several policies explaining their expectations for employee appearance and hygiene. The policies generally include topics such as appearance, dress, disruption of the workplace, health and safety, and interaction with other employees. Appearance and hygiene policies are generally published in an employer’s personnel handbook.   Portrait of a young woman  disgusting with bad smell

Many employers require employees to meet high grooming and hygiene standards as a condition of continued employment, and employers generally retain sole discretion to determine whether an employee’s hygiene and grooming meet their sometimes subjective standards. Employers that do not have hygiene and grooming policies are advised to implement standards as soon as possible because the appearance of employees—especially those who work in the service sector—can have a huge effect on a company’s overall image.

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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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Better with age: legal issues with the aging American workforce

January 18, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Allison B. Wannop

It is undeniable that the American workforce is getting older or, shall we say, more mature. In The Aging U.S. Workforce, the Stanford Center on Longevity estimates that by 2020, workers 55 and older will make up a quarter of the U.S. labor force, up from 13% in 2000. As the Baby Boomer generation hits retirement age, employers face a host of legal issues. Some landmines are rather obvious. For example, employers cannot terminate an employee simply because of her age.

Other issues are more nuanced. What if an employee is performing poorly because of age-related reasons? Can an employer terminate an older employee whose benefits are expensive? This article provides guidance on some of the issues employers with an aging workforce face.  Age Discrimination is Bad

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Sundown to sundown: when employers must accommodate Sabbath-observing employees

January 18, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Gregory L. Silverman

Religious accommodations in the workplace can be challenging for employees and employers to navigate. In our increasingly diverse and religiously pluralistic society, an employee’s religious practices may conflict with practices in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against any individual with respect to the terms of employment because of his or her religion. So when an employee’s weekly observance of the Sabbath prevents him or her from working on a certain day, what is an employer to do? It depends.   Keep the Sabbath Holy

Proving religious discrimination

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