In Part Three, we examined undue hardships on an organization in relation to providing reasonable accommodations. In the fourth, and final, part of this series, we will be exploring the interactive process that helps in determining if an accommodation request is reasonable.
Part Four: Interactive Process
If an employee requests an accommodation, the employer should engage in an interactive process to determine if it is reasonable. The EEOC describes the interactive process this way: the employee and the employer “communicate with each other about the request, 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.”
Basically, the interactive process is an ongoing conversation with an employee who has indicated that they need an adjustment or change at work related to a physical or mental issue. They may specifically request a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, but expressing their needs in “plain English” is acceptable as well. Then, together, the employer and the employee determine what can be done to accommodate the employee so that the essential functions of the job get done to the employer’s standards and the employee is able to enjoy the equal benefits and privileges of employment.
In this four-part series, we looked at four terms in the Americans with Disabilities Act that are commonly misunderstood. If you'd like to learn more about who the ADA applies to, reasonable accommodations and the interactive process, how the ADA works with FMLA, and some do’s and don’ts of the Act, download our free guide, “Understanding the Americans with Disability Act.”