How can we assess a worker’s alleged learning disability? Do we have to pay for it?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. What kind of documentation can an employer request to verify a worker’s contention that he suffers from a learning disability that requires accommodation? Must we pay for the evaluation?

When an applicant or employee requests reasonable accommodation under the ADA, and the need for accommodation isn’t obvious, employers may ask for documentation regarding the disability and any related limitations. Employers are entitled to confirmation that the worker suffers from a covered disability.

You can require the employee to be examined by a health care professional of your choice if the employee fails to provide sufficient information from his or her own health care professional. The worker’s documentation must state that he or she suffers from a disability protected under the ADA and requires a reasonable accommodation.

If the employee provides insufficient documentation, the EEOC contends, you should explain why the information is lacking and provide an opportunity to obtain the necessary information in a timely manner. If the worker fails to do so, you may request that he or she be examined by a health care professional of your choosing (and at your expense).

According to the EEOC, sufficient documentation of a learning disability should include a specific diagnosis (as specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual published by the American Psychiatric Association), evidence that the health professional who made the diagnosis has expertise regarding learning disabilities and information regarding the basis for the diagnosis. The documentation should also show how the disorder limits major life functions.

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