Today I am reading the EEOC bulletin that came in this morning. It is good to see that this employer, LifeWell Living Center, LLC cooperated with the EEOC and went through the conciliation process to resolve alleged ADA violations involving disability discrimination and retaliatory actions.
I included a reading of Part IV, Reasonable Accommodation Procedures, section C. the Interactive Process as it does provide simple guidelines that explain the process and what the EEOC expectations will be regarding this part of reasonable accommodation.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2019
ALBUQUERQUE – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and LifeWell Living Center, LLC have reached a voluntary conciliation agreement to resolve allegations of disability discrimination raised by a former employee, the federal agency said today.
Following an investigation by the Albuquerque EEOC office, the EEOC found it was probable that The Legacy at Santa Fe violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to accommodate the Complainant’s requests for a reasonable accommodation and then terminated her employment because she requested a reasonable accommodation.
LifeWell Living Center, LLC agreed to enter into a two-year conciliation agreement with the EEOC by paying $100,000 to compensate the complainant. In addition to the monetary settlement, LifeWell Living Center, LLC has agreed to make changes in its drug-testing examinations to include a review process with designated medical review officers and human resource personnel who will engage in the interactive process with the applicants and/or employees and provide ADA training for all supervisory, management, human resources and executive employees (including newly assigned), and all non-management employees (including new hires).
“As we approach the 30th anniversary of the ADA, we want to remind employers about the proactive value of training employees on the interactive process and reasonable accommodations,” said Elizabeth Cadle, district director for the Phoenix District Office. “We commend LifeWell Living Center, LLC for working with EEOC toward this positive resolution.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.
Generally, after a request for accommodation has been made, the DPM will begin the interactive process to determine what, if any, accommodation should be provided. This means that the individual requesting the accommodation and the DPM must communicate with each other about the precise nature of the problem that is generating the request, how a disability is prompting a need for an accommodation, and alternative accommodations that may be effective in meeting an individual’s needs.
Upon notification of the request, the DPM (Disability Program Manager) will contact the applicant or employee as soon as practicable, preferably within 7 business days after the request is made, to begin discussing the accommodation request. When the disability and/or the need for accommodation is not obvious, the DPM may ask the individual for reasonable documentation about his/her disability and functional limitations. The DPM is entitled to know that the individual has a covered disability for which s/he needs a reasonable accommodation. Such information may not be necessary if the disability is obvious (e.g., the requestor is blind or has paralysis), if the disability is already known to the EEOC (e.g., a prior request revealed that a disability existed and there has been no change in the individual’s medical condition), or if the need for the requested accommodation is clear.
Communication is a priority throughout the entire process, but particularly where the specific limitation, problem, or barrier is unclear; where an effective accommodation is not obvious; or where the parties are considering different forms of reasonable accommodation. Both the individual making the request and the DPM should work together to identify effective accommodations. Appendix F lists some suggested resources for identifying accommodations. The DPM should update the requestor throughout this process. In addition, the requestor may periodically check with the DPM, by phone or email (Whichever method is preferred by the DPM), for information on the DPM’s progress in processing the request.
When a third party (e.g., an individual’s doctor) requests accommodation on behalf of an applicant or employee, the DPM should, if possible, confirm with the applicant or employee that s/he wants a reasonable accommodation before proceeding. Where this is not possible, for example, because the employee has been hospitalized in an acute condition, the DPM will process the third party’s request if it seems appropriate (e.g., by granting immediate leave) and will consult directly with the individual needing the accommodation as soon as practicable.
The DPM may need to consult with other EEOC personnel (e.g., an employee’s supervisor, Information Technology staff) or outside sources to obtain information necessary for making a determination about the request. The EEOC expects that all agency personnel will give a high priority to responding quickly to a DPM’s request for information or assistance.
A supervisor or office director who believes that an employee may no longer need a reasonable accommodation should contact the DPM. The DPM will decide if there is a reason to contact the employee to discuss whether s/he has a continuing need for reasonable accommodation.
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