Q. An employee requested an accommodation for a medical issue. We asked her to provide a note from her medical provider regarding the need for accommodation. She brought in a note but it’s unclear what the physician is trying to say. What should we do?
A. Employers are entitled to know that an employee has a covered disability and that a requested accommodation is necessary. So your initial request for the note was correct (if the disability or the need for the accommodation wasn’t obvious).
If you are not certain what the medical provider is saying, you should first inform the employee of what is missing or unclear and then allow her to obtain the clarification. If she still doesn’t provide sufficient documentation regarding the existence of a covered disability or the need for an accommodation, you may require her to go to an appropriate health care professional of your choosing.
Remember that any medical examination conducted by the provider you choose must be job-related and consistent with business necessity. The exam should be limited to determining the existence of an ADA disability and the functional limitations that require accommodation.
Note: If you require the employee to attend an examination, you must pay all costs associated with the visit.