You undoubtedly take great pride in running an inclusive and welcoming workplace. You not only want to stay compliant with the law but also want to ensure that your employees do not feel that they work in a toxic work environment or that you are unapproachable as an employer. In some cases, it may be necessary to make certain policies explicitly clear to avoid confusion.
One of your duties as an employer is to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide reasonable accommodations to workers when necessary. Because revealing a disability or requesting accommodation may not always be easy for workers, you may want to take steps to help the process go as easily as possible.
Best practices for reasonable accommodation
In some cases, a person’s disability may not be visually or immediately apparent. Even if it is, such as a worker using a wheelchair, it is important that you do not make any presumptions as an employer about the person’s capabilities or needs. In efforts to make it clear that you follow the ADA, you may want to consider these best practices:
- Provide your workers with contact information for staff members dedicated to handling accommodation requests.
- Ensure that management staff take such requests seriously and handle them quickly and in the appropriate manner.
- Explain why an accommodation was approved or denied so that the employee understands the decision.
- Make sure that management staff keep all medical information regarding a person’s accommodation request confidential.
- Inform workers that you may need additional medical information before making a decision regarding an accommodation request.
Being upfront with this and other related information regarding how you and your company intend to follow the ADA could help your employees understand the process for requesting accommodations and how those requests are handled. It could also help avoid misunderstanding that could lead to complaints against your company if an employee believes that you violated the ADA.
What if you face complaints?
Of course, despite your best efforts, a complaint could come against you or your company. If so, you will want to approach the situation as effectively as possible. Having evidence that you enacted these or similar best practices could work in your favor when defending against such claims. Because this type of situation could quickly become a legal matter, it is wise to have an experienced employment law attorney on your side.