If you’re an employer in Connecticut and employ workers with disabilities, it’s important to understand what steps you should take to avoid running afoul of the ADA.
As you may be aware, workers with disabilities may be entitled to “reasonable accommodations” under the act.
How should an employer decide those cases?
Under the act, having a clear sense of “essential” job functions is the key in these cases.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: “To be protected under the ADA, an individual must have, have a record of, or be regarded as having a substantial, as opposed to a minor, impairment…An individual with a disability must also be qualified to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to be protected by the ADA.”
What are a job’s essential functions?
Defining those is an employer’s responsibility. And putting them in writing – in a clear and well written job description is essential if an employer wants to avoid problems with the courts.
An employer’s judgement about what functions are essential are given “a significant degree of deference” by courts hearing ADA claims.
How can an employer insure that their job descriptions will pass muster in the event of a legal challenge?
Make sure the job descriptions for every job are complete, accurate and reflect the actual employee experience on the job.
And make sure they are regularly updated and accurate.
And one more thing – make sure you’re giving honest and accurate employee reviews.
Routine evaluations of employees can and often are used in legal disputes over reasonable accommodations.
For example, if you’ve routinely given an employee a satisfactory grade on their job performance evaluations, the courts will often consider that fact as evidence that the employee in question can perform essential functions and therefore qualifies for accommodations.
Finally – always work in good faith with disabled employees seeking accommodation. It’s the kind of behavior that the courts will often reward.
If you are an employer in Connecticut and have questions about labor and employment law, contact the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale. Each of us has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of employment and labor law and can help you with this complicated topic. Please call us if we can help you.
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