The first step to ensuring compliance with the ADA is making sure supervisors understand the duty to provide reasonable accommodations. Step two? Centralize the decision-making process when it comes to handling accommodation requests. The last thing you want is supervisors making their own individualized determinations about how to respond to such requests. If they do, you can be sure you will run into problems (consistency being only one of them).
A recent Ohio case proves this point. In Peirano v. Momentive Specialty Chemicals, the plaintiff requested accommodations for irritable bowel syndrome and colitis. In particular, she asked for a flexible start time and more frequent restroom breaks. Following her close-in-time termination for poor performance, the employer stood by the supervisor, who had wanted her to call in — from the bathroom, where it was suggested she keep a clock and a phone — if she would be late due to her condition. The court was not crazy about this accommodation. Making an employee call in from the toilet? Not reasonable (at least, a jury could so find). Presumably (hopefully at least), had HR been involved, the accommodation process would have been handled differently.
Takeaway: make sure the right hand knows what the left is doing. Even well-meaning and educated supervisors will have a hard time navigating the accommodation waters. So don’t ask them to.