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ADA: It’s OK to just agree to accommodation

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

When a disabled employee asks for a reasonable accommodation, the employer is supposed to engage in an interactive process to explore the options. But what if you prefer to skip the discussion and simply agree to the employee’s suggested accommodation?  

That’s fine. By accepting the requested accommodation and telling the employee he can have it, you have done all you’re required to do.

Recent case: Leon’s job consisted solely of reading and writing emails and occasionally answering the phone. He did no manual labor.

One day, his employer told Leon that he would be terminated at the end of that week. Almost immediately, he sent his boss a request for a reasonable accommodation. He said he was experiencing severe pain in his side, and attached a doctor’s note stating that he would be “temporarily totally disabled” unless his duties were modified. The note said Leon needed a break every 30 minutes to stretch, couldn’t lift more than 15 pounds and could do no repetitive or forceful grasping, gripping, pulling or pushing.

His supervisor replied, “Based on your attached doctor’s note, we can meet your doctor’s recommendations for modified duty for the remainder of the week, effective immediately.”

Leon finished his last week of work and then filed a disability discrimination lawsuit alleging his former employer had refused to engage in the interactive accommodations process.

The court dismissed his lawsuit. By giving Leon exactly what he had requested, the employer met its obligations. No further action was necessary. (Poll v. HP, No. B258873, Court of Appeal of California, 2015)

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