SAW/RTW Showcase: Job Function Descriptions

DMEC Staff@Work

Documenting Job Functions: The ADAAA: Step Employers Don’t Know About

By Brian Kost, MA

Sr. Director , Workplace PossibilitiesSM
The Standard

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) can be difficult to comply with, but there is one key step employers can take to ease the challenge: creating and maintaining complete, accurate employee job descriptions. This step is often overlooked, and it can make a world of difference when it comes to easing the ADAAA compliance burden.

These written descriptions are crucial when evaluating disability support needs, and they facilitate an employer’s effort to provide ADAAA-compliant accommodations for employees. To qualify for ADAAA protections, an employee must be able to perform the essential functions of a job with or without reasonable accommodations.

Many employers struggle with developing clear and complete job descriptions, as they sometimes don’t understand why it is worth the time and effort. Mishandling, delaying, or refusing assistance, however, could result in an employee filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — or worse, a lawsuit for failing to accommodate a disabled employee.

In many cases, employees won judgments against former employers when they were terminated for not being able to perform their essential job functions — but the employer did not base their decision on objective standards and measurements. The cost of potential litigation alone should bolster a human resource (HR) manager’s case for spending time and resources to maintain current job descriptions. When considering how to approach job descriptions and employees’ essential job functions within your organization, consider the following best practices.

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