The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Maryland Fair Employment laws, and many other local laws protect qualified employees with disabilities from discrimination in employment. First, employers should be aware that the term “disability” is construed very broadly and includes both physical and mental impairments. The term “qualified” means that the individual satisfies the skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the position sought or held and can perform the essential job functions of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation. Finally, a reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things usually are done that enables a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy an equal employment opportunity. An equal employment opportunity means an opportunity to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are available to an average similarly-situated employee without a disability.
For many employers, by the time they get to the end of the preceding paragraph, their heads are spinning and questions inevitably arise. How do I know if an employee is disabled? When can I ask for medical information from an employee? What kind of medical information can I require? Do I have to provide the accommodation that my employee is asking for? When can I refuse to provide an accommodation? All of these questions carry legal implications and require sensitive, sophisticated assistance and it’s easy for employers acting without assistance make mistakes. No wonder that more than a third of all charges filed with the EEOC allege disability discrimination.
At Luchansky Law, our attorneys have the experience and know-how to help our clients navigate the interactive process required to determine whether or not an employee is disabled and whether they are entitled to a reasonable accommodation. From communications with employees, maintenance of medical records, and discipline of employees with disabilities, our experienced attorneys can help you avoid missteps along the way and ensure that you comply with your legal obligations. Our attorneys also provide services that help Maryland employers to be proactive, including: training managers and supervisors on how to handle disability information from employees; advising clients concerning policies and procedures; conducting compliance audits to proactively identify, assess, and correct non-compliant practices; conducting internal investigations; reviewing individual employment decisions; and updating and revising existing employment policies. If you have a question about how to respond to an employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation, please call us today.