It is important that New Jersey employers stay compliant with applicable laws that pertain to their employees. In particular, if an employee requests a reasonable accommodation due to a disability, it is important that the employer perform his or her due diligence by finding out more information before approving or denying a request. If proper procedures are not followed, an employer could end up facing complaints or even legal claims for violations.
Though not specifically required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it may be fruitful for an employer to have an interview with the employee regarding the possible accommodation. To prepare for this type of interview, the employer could review the position that the employee holds and the functions of the job. Knowing this information could help the employer determine whether the request is applicable to the actual duties of the employee’s job.
Other steps to following during this process include the following:
- Discussing limitations that the employee’s disability presents in regard to performing work-related duties
- Asking questions to determine whether the employee considers him or herself disabled and how the disability will affect job performance
- Coming up with possible accommodation suggestions with the employee
- Requesting documents and records relating to the disability, such as medical records or recommendations for accommodation from medical professionals
- Keeping records of the interview
It could also be helpful to follow up with the employee periodically so everyone remains updated on the progress of the reasonable accommodation request. If the request is approved, additional follow-ups on the effectiveness of the accommodation could also prove useful. In any case, it is wise for New Jersey employers to understand their rights and obligations under the law when it comes to talking with employees about disabilities and choosing to approve or deny a request.