Your employer is required to explore and discuss reasonable accommodations with disabled employees or job candidates. Reasonable accommodations can include, but are not limited to:
- Changing some job duties
- Changing schedule / work hours
- Providing medical leave
- Moving an employee’s work area (e.g. closer to the restroom, the elevator, handicapped parking)
- Providing mechanical, electrical, or technological assistance or assistive devices
It’s important that the disabled employee feels that the employer is making a good faith, honest effort to accommodate the disability. Your company doesn’t have to go it alone; federal and state offices can help with recommendations, and independent medical or expert opinion may be helpful and/or necessary in some circumstances.
It’s not considered illegal discrimination to make employment-related decisions based on a disability that, even after making reasonable accommodations:
- Renders the disabled person unable to perform the primary / essential functions of the job
- Creates a substantial, imminent danger to self or others by performing the job
- An ambulance driver experiences an epileptic seizure that disqualifies him from holding a driver’s license.
- Following a car accident, a surgeon becomes quadriplegic and cannot walk or operate on patients.
- A radiography technician loses his hearing to a degree that he can no longer recognize important safety signals or alarms from his equipment or warnings from his coworkers.
Employees have the right to submit the results of an independent medical opinion and consider that opinion in any action taken. The final decision regarding an employee’s status with the company will be consistent with your facility’s written policies and procedures.
It is NOT acceptable to take employment-related action because a disability:
- Has the possibility of harming self or others in the future
- Will cause an employer’s insurance cause to go up
Terminating or transferring an employee for these reasons IS illegal discrimination. Paying increased insurance costs is a reasonable accommodation, and the danger posed by an employee’s disability must be imminent and substantial, not hypothetical, to be legal grounds for employment-related action.