What’s the No. 1 faulty assumption companies make about disability lawsuits?
Many legal experts warn it’s when firms assume they’re “grandfathered” from Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) suits if their facilities were built before the ADA became law in 1990, or if they haven’t made substantial physical changes to their facilities.
But the the ADA says that pre-1990 buildings that invite the general public in (stores, restaurants, hotels) must remove structural barriers that prevent equal access “where such removal is readily achievable.”
What qualifies as a reasonable request?
Here’s one more wrong assumption: Companies must accommodate a disabled employee’s request to comply with the ADA.
If you read enough articles or lawsuits about companies fighting disability suits, you may assume that’s the case.
But it’s not true. Companies must take reasonable steps to accommodate a disabled worker’s request.
But companies have a good amount of leeway under the law – and the proof’s in the amount of lawsuits that have gone companies’ way after considering an employee’s request for an acomomdation that wasn’t viable.
For example: Building a new restroom for one employee who needs to take frequent restroom breaks isn’t a reasonable request! There have been scores of suits from employees asking for everything under the sun and 99 times out of 100, they don’t fly.
Nor is any other request that undermines how a business operates. Example: requests to work at home when on-site supervision is needed.
Keep in mind the three keys for reducing liability and coming out on the winning end of a potential ADA battle:
• Listen to accommodation requests
• make sure there’s a business-related reason for denying an employee’s request, and
• document, document, document.