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Interactive process necessary to ADA accommodations

Charlie Plumb, an employment attorney with McAfee & Taft, discusses mandated steps to accommodate disabled employees upon their return to work.
by Paula Burkes Modified: May 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm •  Published: May 22, 2013

Q&A with Charlie Plumb

Businesses required to consider

Accommodations for disabled

Q: Workers who become disabled for whatever reason are often unable to return to their former positions due to their current medical or physical conditions. What prevents an employer from simply terminating their employment if they can't do the jobs they were hired to do?

A: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to consider the possibility of a “reasonable accommodation” to allow a disabled employee to maintain his employment with the company. Reasonable accommodations are accommodations that don't impose an undue hardship on the employer. Depending on the situation, examples may include restructuring a position, reassigning the employee to a vacant position, altering a work schedule, making changes to the workplace to make it more accessible or usable, or even modifying equipment for them to use.

Q: When should a reasonable accommodation be considered?

A: If a disabled employee wants to return to work, the employer is legally obligated to engage the worker in an interactive process regarding reasonable accommodations as soon as it is requested by the employee or someone speaking on his behalf, such as a supervisor, co-worker, health professional or family member.

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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