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October 2015 Archives

Understanding the interactive accommodations process

The Americans with Disabilities Act outlines what an employer must do to accommodate an employee with a known disability. Reasonable accommodations are changes or modification made to a work environment or job that helps an individual with a known disability. Reasonable accommodations may be made to give an employee the same privileges and rights as their co-workers. When an employer does not provide reasonable accommodations to an employee that has requested them, the employer is in violation of the ADA.

While employees with disabilities may think they are required to specifically ask for reasonable accommodations, this is not the case. When a person's disability isn't obvious or when an accommodation is not completely understood, the employee and employer should engage in the interactive accommodation process for resolution. This approach allows employer-employee communication to aid in the process of determining and providing a reasonable accommodation to disabled individuals.

The interactive accommodation process is appropriate when the employee's disability is not clear or when a suitable accommodation cannot be found. In some cases, through the communication process, employees and employers come to the conclusion that reassignment is the only way to effectively accommodate the disabled employee. When an employee must be reassigned, both parties must work together to find an appropriate and acceptable assignment.

While many employers have no difficulty following the guidelines established by the ADA, there are the occasional few that blatantly violate them. For employees that have been discriminated against because of their disability or feel that a reasonable accommodation was not made by their employer, speaking to an employment law attorney may help.

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