Prevent managers from interfering with employees’ ADA rights

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,People Management

You know that you can't retaliate against employees who request accommodation under the Americans with Disabil-ities Act (ADA). But in addition to this anti-retaliation rule, the law includes a little-known "interference" provision that makes it illegal to "coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with" any person who exercises his or her ADA rights.

Make sure your managers know about this provision. Explain that they should never try to steer employees away from their rightful ADA accommodation. And, when handing out employee discipline against protected employees, make sure the discipline doesn't get in the way of the employee's accommodation.

Recent case: When a police detective became severely depressed, doctors recommended she not be put "on call" or work the night shift. Nevertheless, her supervisor asked her several times if she could be on call and threatened to transfer or demote her.

After being suspended, she didn't return to work. Instead, she filed an ADA lawsuit, citing this "interference" clause. She claimed that the supervisor's constant inquiries about her on call status and threats of demotion were meant to intimidate her and force her to give up the accommodation. A federal appeals court sided with the detective and let her case go to trial. (Brown v. Tucson, No. 01-16938, 9th Cir., 2003)

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