When an employee becomes disabled, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the employee can’t work anymore. There may be accommodations that will allow the employee to keep doing the job. To figure this out, the employee must first take these steps.
After the employee tells the employer about his or her disability, the required interactive process will help to determine whether an effective and reasonable accommodation will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. 29 CFR §1630.2(o); Govt C §12940(n). Here are the steps an employee must take in the process.
__ STEP 1: Learn the company policies. Once it’s determined that you have a disability or medical condition restricting your ability to effectively perform the essential functions of your position or otherwise preventing you from equal access to the benefits and privileges of other employees, immediately review your company’s employee handbook and familiarize yourself with the policies on disability accommodations and the interactive process.
__ STEP 2: Determine who to contact. Determine the designated company representative or department to contact on your request for an accommodation and to initiate the interactive process.
__ STEP 3: Be specific about your limitations. Provide your employer with as many details about your limitations and any proposed accommodations because of those limitations as soon as possible. Although there’s no obligation to disclose your exact medical diagnoses or other broad medical history, detailed information will assist your employer’s analysis of the reasonable and effective accommodations available to you.
__ STEP 4: Give additional information when needed. If at any point during the interactive process your employer determines that it has insufficient information to analyze which reasonable accommodation will enable you to effectively perform the essential functions of your position, communicate immediately with the company representative to determine what additional information is required. Then, provide the appropriate information.
__ STEP 5: Express any concerns about suggested accommodations. Once your employer presents a potential accommodation, communicate any concerns about the suggestion immediately, explaining how it’s ineffective at enabling you to perform the essential functions of your position. Although your preference should be considered by the employer, the employer isn’t obligated to select your preferred accommodation. The employer should, however, choose the best accommodation that will allow you to effectively perform the essential functions of your job.
__ STEP 6: Determine whether the accommodation is working. Decide whether the accommodation as implemented is effectively enabling you to perform the essential functions of your position. If you have concerns that the accommodation may not be effective, tell your employer immediately so that you can discuss potential modifications to the selected accommodation or explore alternative accommodations.
__ STEP 7: Update the employer on changes. Keep your employer informed if the nature of your limitations changes. By doing so your employer can look for ways to appropriately and effectively accommodate your limitations.
For guidance on disability accommodation issues, including a diagram of the interactive process and sample letters and checklists, turn to CEB’s Drafting Employment Documents for California Employers, chap 6. Also check out CEB’s Advising California Employers and Employees §§15.109-15.151.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- 10 Steps to Hiring Without Violating Disability Discrimination Laws
- Disability Accommodation: The Big Picture
- 15 Steps to Help Employers Move through the Interactive, Accommodation Process
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