Easy disability accommodation? Just do it!
Sometimes, it makes sense to simply agree to a disability accommodations request that sounds low-cost, easy to implement and convenient. You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of time determining the extent of the claimed disability or whether the employee requires an accommodation at all.
Instead of risking a lawsuit, it may be best to just go ahead and provide the accommodation.
Case in point: The EEOC recently settled with a small employer in San Diego. A marketing company called InsideUp employed a consultant who said he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and asthma. As a reasonable accommodation, he asked to work on the ground floor of the company’s office building, which didn’t have an elevator. That way, he wouldn’t have to walk up and down the stairs.
Instead of making the easy accommodation, the company terminated the man. He promptly went to the EEOC, which filed a lawsuit on his behalf.
InsideUp quickly saw the downside of fighting it out in court. It agreed to settle the case by paying the employee $10,500.
But the company will have to do more than fork over the cash. It must also train all employees on their obligations under the ADA, revise its policies to make clear that reasonable accommodations are available, centrally track accommodation requests and regularly report back to the EEOC on all accommodation requests and how they were resolved.
Advice: Train every supervisor at every level on the ADA and the reasonable accommodation process. Make sure they understand they must pass along all accommodations requests to HR as soon as the employee raises the issue. Track all accommodation requests. Make quick work of instituting the interactive accommodations process, with the goal of implementing reasonable accommodations as soon as possible.
And if there is an easy way to accommodate a disability, just do it.