Handling accommodation requests and making sure a company’s infrastructure is safe and well-equipped for disabled workers can be a challenge. Interpreting and applying the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), primary law on the fair treatment of disabled workers, can also be challenging. Still, it’s essential that each company remain in ADA compliance. The consequences of not doing so can be costly.
There are a number of ways to double check whether your company is ADA compliant. Some involve inquiring with your HR department to clear up questions and concerns regarding company policy. Others specifically involve getting to know a company’s legally required obligations and responsibilities at the federal and state level before a dispute arises.
Contact your HR Department.
On of the best ways to find out whether your company is ADA compliant is to check with your HR department. Specifically you’ll want to inquire about the ADA compliance policy. In the absence of a specific policy on the subject, check with HR experts in your workplace about ADA compliance training. Almost all management department are required to have at least some form of training on the provisions of the ADA.
If no ADA compliance policy exists, it could be a good indication that your company is not in compliance. Currently the EEOC offers a technical assistance program (as well as a host of other guidance and compliance assistance documents) to employer who wish to voluntarily comply with the ADA. Such participation goes highly recommended since it can prevent or resolve disputes when or if they should arise.
Talk to your supervisor or the head of your department.
Sometimes, a simple conversation with your manager or department head is all that necessary to determine company ADA compliance. Even after speaking with HR, it’s always a good idea to speak with your boss about the best way to handle accommodation requests and more concerning the ADA.
This type of open communication will ensure mutual understanding exists concerning accommodation requests as well as how disputes and grievances should be handled. It also gives employees an opportunity to express expectations concerning fair treatment and to consider whether further steps should be taken to address the issues affecting them most.
In fact, the EEOC suggests that any request made for accommodations, in particular, under the ADA be made through an interactive process. Accommodations are required under the ADA. If the worker makes the request known and the request is not unduly harmful to business, the employer must grant provide them.
Suppose a disabled worker makes a request that the employer deems unduly harmful to business. Should the worker give up and continue working with no accommodation at all? The answer is no. According to the EEOC, the business must look into alternative ways to meet the request through an interactive process with the disabled worker.
This means communication is key when making requests for accommodation under the ADA. Don’t hesitate to hold your employer accountable to ADA compliance even if your first request is denied.
Check for clearly communicated visual displays of ADA compliance policies.
The federal law requires companies to post information on disability discrimination. Having notices visually displayed as a formal signal to employees that the company acknowledges their rights as well as the employer’s responsibilities under the law. A good way to ensure that your company is complying with the AD Ais check to see that these signs are clearly visible.
Company training on the ADA is also important. The presence of a training policy and program for management and new hires is a valuable asset for companies seeking to avoid litigation from disputes that can be avoided. It’s also a good indication that your company takes adherence to disability rights laws seriously.
Check with the EEOC when disputes arise, and contact your attorney.
When disputes do arise, significant step must be taken to address them. Contact a qualified employment rights attorney first. Doing so can help steer you through the process which involves and EEOC or state based program and possible litigation.
Your attorney can assist with filing a charge with the EEOC at any of the federal or state branch offices located throughout the county. The EEOC will conduct an investigation into all claims against the company. The investigation may involve interviewing supervisors managers and HR department staff familiar with the case. Documenting your complaint well from the start is key.
If the EEOC determines that the case can be handled by your own attorney, the agency will issue a Notice of Right to Sue. This notice gives permission to an employee to file a suit against the employer in a court of law. In some instances, the EEOC will decide to take on the case, representing the employee in a federal or state suit against the company.
Research the law.
Even with the assistance of a qualified employment rights attorney, employees can find out whether their company is in ADA compliance by research the law for themselves. ADA law is generally straightforward although it can be complicated when it comes to procedural issues.
The basic crux of ADA law is the definition of disability. According to the ADA, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. This definition is generally construed as broadly as possible in courts, but it does have its limits.
A substantial limit on a major life activity means that a temporary disability or a disability with minor effects may not be viewed as a legal disability by courts. Rather, the disability must have a major effect on essential daily functions like talking, seeing, breathing or hearing.
Further research might include taking a look at the ADA’s provision on discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Each of these is prohibited under the law in almost every category of the employment process including hiring, firing and compensation.
The ADA & You
The ADA covers a wide array of disability issues making it one of the most important bodies of law for disabled workers. It’s important to know that your company is in compliance, and if not the steps you can take to uphold your rights. If you think your company is not in compliance with the ADA, contact an experienced employment rights attorney right away.