Yesterday, we discussed how and when an employee or potential employee with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be considered to have a disability. Today, we’ll discuss what to do once you find out an employee or potential employee has ADHD.
Because ADHD can be considered a disability, you are on the hook as an employer to provide reasonable accommodation if your employee asks for it. Reasonable accommodation is any assistance that can be offered to the employee that doesn’t cause “undue hardship” (significant difficulty or expense, for example).
According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), a request for reasonable accommodation must be directed to the employer from the employee or the employee’s representation in “plain English,” and “need not mention the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or use the phrase ‘reasonable accommodation.’” Also, the employee (or his or her representative) must link the request to a medical condition, in this case, ADHD. So when employees say that because of their ADHD they can’t focus on their work due to distracting sounds, for example, that’s a legal request for reasonable accommodation.
An employer has a number of possible solutions to this problem that won’t cause “undue hardship.” Noise cancellation headphones, allowing the employee to listen to music, or moving the employee to a quieter location are all considered reasonable accommodations for this request. Failing to provide or address such an accommodation invites legal action, especially if it leads to that employee being fired.
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Remember, whenever an employee makes a request for reasonable accommodation, it’s the beginning of an interactive process. Undertaking this process can take time, but it can also lead to a happier, more productive employee and keep you out of the legal hot seat.
Below are the basic steps of the process to provide reasonable accommodation for an employee:
- The EEOC states that after being notified of a reasonable accommodation request, the employer should begin a process to “clarify what the individual needs and identify the appropriate reasonable accommodation.”
- The employee should sit down with the company’s HR manager or other appropriate individual and discuss the request. Steps should be documented because they are crucial for identifying the exact nature of the request.
- The employer must determine if the request is reasonable. Requesting an office in a company where there are none, for example, would likely be considered unreasonable. Even if the request is unreasonable and would cause undue hardship for the employer, it’s still up to the employer to offer a more reasonable alternative.
- Think of these steps as a negotiation; it may take several meetings to hammer out the details. In the end, you want to provide an accommodation, but one that fits well within the work environment and makes practical sense.
- Once one or more accommodations are agreed on, the employer must make the changes in a timely manner. Dragging your feet at this point can be viewed as a refusal to comply in the eyes of the EEOC.
That’s a broad introduction into where you stand when you learn that one of your employees or potential employees has ADHD.
Whether it’s an employee with ADHD or any other disability, staying compliant with the ADA can be tough. BLR can help! Want to learn more? Start with this free checklist from BLR, ADA Compliant Job Description Checklist.
Having trouble staying compliant with the ADA? Download the free checklist, ADA Compliant Job Description Checklist. Learn More
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