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Don’t lower standards for disabled staff

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. One of our employees has multiple sclerosis and isn't meeting our production standard, which calls for 70 percent production level. This employee is achieving only a 59 percent level. From an ADA standpoint, what would be a reasonable accommodation? —M.R., Pennsylvania

A. If your 70 percent production standard is truly an essential job function, you don't have to accept the disabled worker's lower productivity level. But first, you must engage in an “interactive process” with the employee to discuss what, if any, accommodations would enable this person to reach the 70 percent threshold. If you determine that no reasonable accommodation exists, you can decide that the employee is not qualified to perform that job.

The next step is to determine whether the employee would be qualified for another available position in your company. If the answer is “Yes,” you should, as part of your reasonable accommodation obligation, transfer the worker. This doesn't mean that you must create a new position.

If no suitable transfer position exists, termination may be appropriate. But you'd be wise to consult your lawyer before taking this final action.

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