Under the law, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to engage in what is called the interactive dialogue with any employee who requests accommodation for a disability. However, in reality, the ADA rarely (if ever) appears in the workplace when an employee proactively states: “I need accommodation for my recognized disability!”
It is far more common for HR to hear rumors about an employee’s medical condition months after the employee’s supervisor began informally accommodating the employee by allowing him or her to leave work to attend appointments, or an employee with known performance problems is disciplined and in turn blames the problems on a mental or physical health condition.
Unfortunately, when a disability is present or even suspected, terminating or demoting an employee once the issue of a potential disability has been raised can be a tricky process. At the same time, performance issues should not be ignored. In fact, the opposite is true. Performance issues should always be carefully documented and placed in employee files. This documentation creates a record that will offer employers protection in the event that a discrimination claim is made.
By documenting performance problems in real time, you can avoid a situation where:
- The supervisor gets fed up with an employee’s poor performance or the accommodation that had been informally in place;
- The supervisor decides to terminate; and
- The employee claims he or she had no history of performance issues and is being discriminated against.
What, how and when to document matter. We can help–contact us at 508.548.4888 or firstname.lastname@example.org