As employers are calling employees back
into the workplace there will be some employees who prefer to stay home. TEA
has been receiving HR Helpline calls about employees claiming that coming back
into the office is causing them anxiety and are seeking notes excusing them
from returning to the workplace from their doctors. Employers should be
careful of the possibility of an ADA claim if they “require” employees to
return to work – especially if the work being performed has been and could
continue to be successfully performed from outside the office. Some employers
are choosing to “accommodate” these employees’ restrictions just to be safe.
In order to minimize the potential of
stress-related ADA situations employers should consider using the interrogatory
process in their decision-making. This process includes the following steps:
Discuss with the employee what the
situation is and what they believe would work as a reasonable accommodation.
Identify ideas the company has
regarding possible reasonable accommodations.
Potentially involve the employee’s
medical professional by presenting the facts about the job and asking for their
professional input on what might work as a reasonable accommodation.
Evaluate, prioritize and cost out
Determine the best reasonable
accommodation option(s) and make a final decision.
Communicate the decision, explain
what must be done then take action to implement the course of action.
Last, but certainly not least,
document and record each step taken along the way – the suggestions, the
pros/cons for each, the cost, the feasibility as well as any communications,
expectations and ramifications of inaction.
Following these guidelines will help the
company if the situation become litigious. ADA reasonable accommodation
decisions are most often unique to each organization since what is “reasonable”
for one is not always reasonable for another. If you have any questions or
would like further guidance on this issue please feel free to contact TEA at