BCN Services

More on the ADA: Be sure policies address workplace accommodations (Part 4 of 4)

Article legal concept

Many employers are familiar with the terms “restriction” and “accommodation” especially as it relates to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)  Many have become familiar with some accommodating practices, such as offering an individual in a job where standing is required a chair or stool.

Other common accommodations include weight-lifting restrictions for someone with back problems or work breaks to check blood glucose levels, eat a snack, or take medication for a employee with diabetes.

But some employers should take note that some of their accommodation practices may be out of date.

Sears, Roebuck & Company paid $6.2 million to settle a case which alleged that Sears maintained inflexible workers’ compensation leave and accommodation policies.  The settlement required Sears to amend its workers’ compensation leave policy and provide training to its employees regarding the ADA.

Employers should check their current policies and practices to ensure that:

  • All requests for accommodations are reviewed with Human Resources.  It is no longer acceptable to refuse an employee’s request for restricted work based only on the fact that the condition is not work related.
  • An individual’s employment is not terminated based on that employee being leave for a specific amount of time.  Sometimes a reasonable accommodation may extend an employee’s leave of absence.
  • Supervisors and managers are engaging in an interactive process with employees requesting accommodation.

Employers should not lose heart in considering accommodations.  Regardless of an employee’s restrictions/accommodation request, employers don’t have to comply with all requests.  And employees are still required to fulfill the essential functions of their assigned job.

As always, for help in navigating the compliance heavy waters of workers’ compensation and ADA regulations, and setting compliant policies, contact the professionals at BCN Services.