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Document every ADA accommodation offer

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Sometimes, an employee doesn’t want to ask for disability accommodations, even though it would help him perform his job. Regardless, document your offer to accommodate.

That could be a legal life-saver if you ever have to terminate the employee for poor performance.

Recent case: Ed worked as an MRI tech at a New York hospital.

Despite 15 years of experience, he received consistently poor evaluations. Ed’s supervisor criticized his bedside manner as well as his technical skills—he once allowed a patient to wear a jewelry during an exam, which could have been deadly.

Ed fell at home and hit his head. The resulting hematoma required a lengthy FMLA leave to recover. He also developed diabetes and other medical problems. When he returned from FMLA leave, his supervisor asked if Ed needed anything else to perform his job better. Ed said he didn’t need an accommodation, training or anything else.

Over the next few months, Ed’s performance remained substandard. His boss again asked several times if Ed needed help doing his job successfully. Ed always denied needing any assistance or being disabled.

Finally, the hospital terminated Ed for poor performance. He applied for Social Security disability benefits, alleging he could no longer work. But he also sued under the ADA, alleging failure to accommodate his disabilities. But the hospital could demonstrate that it had made repeated accommodation offers.

The court dismissed Ed’s case, since it was he who had refused to engage in the interactive accommodations process, not the hospital. (Estrada v. St. Francis Hospital, No. 13-CV-1243, ED NY, 2015)

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