[author: Susan R. Maisa]

Employers are accustomed to providing training on their anti-harassment policies. However, training supervisors and managers on ADA reasonable accommodation issues is equally important. Often, supervisors and managers are the people to whom employees go with “accommodation” requests. If these supervisors and managers do not know how to recognize and respond to reasonable accommodation requests, they could be improperly denying such requests without even realizing they are doing so. This could result in liability for the employer under the ADA.Accordingly, it is very important to train all managers and supervisors on ADA accommodations, including:

  • How to recognize an “accommodation” request, including any request by an employee (or applicant) for a change in policy or procedure or other assistance related to his or her employment due to a medical condition.
  • What can and cannot be said to an employee requesting an accommodation, including not telling the employee the accommodation cannot be provided before the accommodation request is fully evaluated.
  • The procedure for referring accommodation requests to human resources or those responsible for processing the requests. If supervisors and managers are responsible for actually processing reasonable accommodation requests, they need detailed training as to how to respond to such requests, including the need to engage in the interactive process required by the ADA.
  • Policies and procedures to ensure the confidentiality of all medical and other information received from an employee related to an accommodation request.
  • Policies and procedures to ensure an employee who is provided an accommodation is not mistreated by coworkers due to the accommodation.
  • Policies and procedures to ensure that applicants for employment have the same entitlement to reasonable accommodations as employees.

Providing this essential training for your supervisors and managers may help you reduce your liability exposure under the ADA and state disability laws.