If an employee tells the employer that she needs an accommodation for a medical condition, what should an employer do?
Minneapolis employment and labor law attorney, Mary Krakow, explains how employers can provide employees with accommodations.
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An employer who learns from the employee that they need an accommodation to continue to perform the essential functions of the job under both federal law and state law has an obligation to determine if the employer can provide that accommodation without undue hardship to the employer. So how does an employer do that? Through what the law calls an interactive process with the employee. Interactive process means meeting with the employee, letters back and forth to the employee maybe some telephone calls, some e-mails, any kind of communication with the employee. And I always recommend that that interaction process include both the employee’s supervisor and someone from human resources. So that the person from human resources who should be well versed in disability accommodation law makes sure that the process stays on track. It is a process it’s usually not one and done; one meeting and we’re done here. So the employer should be prepared to continue the process.
Now one of the things that the employer can keep in mind is that if the requested accommodation is not for a visible medical limitation the employer has the right to ask the employee to obtain appropriate medical certification of this need that the employee is expressing for an accommodation for the limitation that the employee is claiming. So interactive process with the employee, I say try the requested accommodation if you can or if the employer has an alternative that’s equally effective they can try that one. But try to see if it will work, document as you go, and work with the employee on an ongoing interactive basis.