Employers and human resource personnel often find themselves trying to reasonably accommodate the needs of disabled employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Unfortunately, for many employers, the concept of ADA accommodation can be a controversial topic. While wanting to meet the needs of the employees, several issues can impede accommodation:
- Requests can seem unnecessary or excessive
- Communication barriers can prevent an employee from effectively discussing needs
- Specific recommendations, by health care providers or others, may misdirect desired accommodation.
- Lack of understanding of disability
- Employer or human resources hesitancy to violate employee privacy
- Fear of litigation
Whatever the issue, ADA accommodation can be a worry for employers and human resources professionals alike; as well as a very real personal issue for employees.
One of the the most important issues in ADA compliance is the concept of “reasonable accommodation”. So often when an employee reports a specific doctor recommended accommodation needed in the workplace, the idea of compromise and negotiation fall by the way side. However, this is the time for employers and employees to get together and create a strategic solution that meets everyone’s needs – so often the employers and employees assume a position of being against the other side, which results in increased conflict and discord.
Mediation is an effective method to address these issues. In fact the US Department of Justice established the ADA Mediation Program in 1994. In doing so “Congress encouraged the use of alternative means of dispute resolution, including mediation, to resolve ADA disputes”.
Like other mediated issues, a neutral third party, who meets with the employee and the employer (or person with authority to make decisions), mediates the ADA issue.
Not all accommodation issues need go through the DOJ. Employers can proactively bring in a neutral mediator, such as CFR Mediation, to address each issue as it arises, preventing escalation to formal complaint or a discrimination lawsuit.
Together they work towards an accommodation that meets the needs of both employer and employee, resulting in an outcome that promotes overall productivity and health – in other words – a reasonable accommodation.
Tags: ada, americans with disability, compliance issues, disability, employer, Found In the News, health, health care, hr, human resources, Mediation, medical, productivity, workplace, Workplace Conflict, workplace mediation