In the new year employers can definitely expect to see more EEOC activity with respect to the ADA Amendments. In particular, the agency will be scrutinizing employers’ efforts to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. So what exactly is the EEOC looking for? For one thing, an interactive process that is individualized, not rote. In other words, employers should not have a “one size fits all” approach to determining what constitutes a reasonable accommodation. When it comes to offering additional time off as a reasonable accommodation — one of the EEOC’s all-time favorites — do not have a fixed time in mind. Policies that limit time off to, say, 12 months, are sure to be shot down. The agency seems to always want to know, “if you were going to give twelve, why not offer fourteen?” So be flexible, and always err on the side of offering more, not less, time off as an accommodation (unpaid, of course). Finally, be sure to ask the employee in question what s/he thinks would enable him or her to perform the job effectively. While employers so not always have to defer to the employee’s request, asking the question demonstrates a good faith effort to find a solution.
Happy New Year!