Training Is the Key to Compliance
By Roberta Etcheverry, CPDM
Diversified Management Group
As disability management and human resources (HR) professionals, we are aware of our organization’s obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding reasonable accommodations. In most organizations, however, line supervisors are often the first to learn of requests for accommodations. How can we ensure legal compliance and best practices if we are out of the loop?
“Training supervisors is the most important thing an organization can do to support compliance and positive outcomes,” advises Michael Weinberger, HR Vice President for Mission Rock Residential and formerly Senior HR Business Partner with Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Weinberger adds, “By the time HR is involved, certain actions may have already been taken.” The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) reinforces this in its guide, Educating the Workforce about the ADA and Accommodations, noting that “JAN cannot stress this enough. Train management staff on the ADA and accommodations — early and often.” Training, whether by an external vendor or in-house HR staff, should be verified by experts as fully accurate based on current case law.
Supervisors must be aware of the “triggers” to begin an interactive process with employees who may need an accommodation. Even if an employee does not request an accommodation, an employer learning that an employee has a condition impacting the ability to do their job should treat this as a request until a determination can be made. Supervisors must be trained on who is involved in the interactive process, what information can be shared, and how decisions are made so they can appropriately respond to requests.
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