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Image of a checklist with a black pen laying on top. Text reads "ADA Accommodations Checklist"
Image of a checklist with a black pen laying on top. Text reads "ADA Accommodations Checklist"

ADA Accommodations Checklist

TLDR; While the accommodations process looks different at most organizations, be sure to follow proper procedures to avoid a misstep.

Team Disclo
August 22, 2022

If your employee informs you that their disability is interfering with their ability to perform their job tasks, it’s important that you follow the proper procedures to avoid misstepping.

Step One: Identify the need for accommodation

Do not inquire about the need for an accommodation unless there is evidence that the employee has an impairment affecting their job performance. 

Ask the employee if there is any way in which the employer can assist the employee in the performance of job tasks. It is not necessary to reference the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at this point in time. 

If the employee declines the need for assistance, there is no need for further action, and the employee may be held to the same performance and conduct standards as all other employees.

Step Two: Engage in an interactive process

If your employee discloses the need for assistance or accommodations due to their disability, you must engage in an interactive process which includes:

  1. Determine whether there is medical documentation or objective information  that concludes the employee does indeed have a physical or mental impairment that ‘substantially limits’ one or more major life activities.
  2. Review the employee’s job description and determine the ‘essential functions’ of the job. In conjunction, identify the ‘nonessential functions’ of the job tasks that may be reassigned to another employee if needed.
  3. Discuss possible accommodations with the employee, their healthcare provider, and their direct supervisor who have knowledge of the specific job. Engage other professionals/ services (such as Disclo) as appropriate. 
  4. Determine whether the accommodation requested by the employee creates ‘undue hardship’ to the employer.
  5. In the case that the requested accommodation creates ‘undue hardship’, suggest and discuss alternative accommodations with the employee.

Step Three: If necessary, obtain medical documentation

70% of disabilities are ‘invisible’ or ‘non-apparent’. If the disability or the need for accommodation is not obvious, as an employer, you have the right to ask for reasonable documentation about the employee’s disability or functional limitations.

Make sure to have the employee sign a medical release form before requesting any documentation from a healthcare provider. It is considered best practice to provide the employee with an ADA medical accommodation form, as well as a copy of the employee’s job description which can be reviewed and signed by an appropriate medical provider. It is important that the healthcare provider indicates which major life activities are limited. 

Step Four: Determine if there is a ‘direct threat’

According to the ADA, a ‘direct threat’ is a significant risk of substantial harm. Assessing this should be based solely on medical analysis or objective evidence. This should never be assessed based on speculation. 

  1. Determine whether the employee is a direct threat to themselves or others by performing their job task. 
  2. Document the direct threat by identifying risk caused by the limitation, potential harm that could occur, and the medical / objective facts on which the risk is based. 

Step Five: Retain documentation

Record keeping is an important and often misunderstood step for employers. Be sure to identify and document which reasonable accommodation was provided. In the case that a request was denied, document the reason an accommodation was not needed or why the request was denied. All medical information must be kept separate from the employee’s file. Therefore, you can not store any of this information in your HRIS such as Workday, Rippling, Gusto, etc. 

Using Disclo, you won’t have to worry about mismanaging this process. Our software allows you to collect disability disclosures in a safe and compliant manner, verify the legitimacy of a request, and case manage / record keep. Book a free demo today to learn more. 

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