Some of the most recent demographic studies of Connecticut and U.S. workers show a growing pool of qualified but disabled job applicants.
Why the rise in disabilities?
There are really three readily identifiable causes. First, the number of children (the future of the every workforce) with developmental and neurological disorders is rising. Second, a greater number of older adults are remaining in the workforce. And finally, an epidemic of obesity is leaving tens of thousands of adults with musculoskeletal and cardiovascular disorders that limit mobility.
If you are an employer in Connecticut – there are a number of things you should do now so that you properly accommodate current and future workers with disabilities and avoid disabilities related lawsuits:
- Make sure you properly address accommodations for the disabled in your employee handbook. Place particular stress on the importance of having open and ongoing two-way conversations about each employee’s needs and how those requirements might affect essential job functions.
- Make sure all employees – and particularly supervisors – are taught how to accommodate and manage disabled employees. A failure to do so commonly leads to legal problems.
- Did you know that in the eyes of the court, requests for accommodations don’t need to be made in writing? A comment related to a disability made by an employee over lunch and overheard by a supervisor may trigger the need to review whether an accommodation is being requested.
- Properly managing an employee with a disability does not end once an accommodation has been made. Both parties should continue to communicate about how the accommodations are working for those affected.
- Make sure all supervisors understand that once an employee’s need for accommodations is known – they are legally required to engage that employee in conversation to better understand the employee’s issues and needed accommodations. Remember – treat each request individually – seeking to find the best options for each individual seeking relief.
- Keep written records of all conversations on this topic as well as all accommodations made. These records will come in very handy should there ever be a legal dispute.
If you’re an employer and have questions about how to handle employee disabilities, consider calling on the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Connecticut. We do one thing and one thing only – we are an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are one of the largest employer defense law firms in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys have over 20 years of experience in employment law and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please contact us if we can help you.
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