Reasonable Accommodation Training Overview
Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act gives employers essential tools for hiring and retaining safe and productive team members but also creates new responsibilities for workers’ compensation case managers. This powerful workshop raises and answers the questions encountered in the daily blend of on-boarding, termination, and return-to-work situations. Review of current case studies and recent federal court settlements lead off and conclude the training.
- ADA Title 1 is a “process” law – follow the process!
- ADA Title 1 does not consider the source of impairment (accident, on-the-job injury, genetic)
- What is a reasonable accommodation?
- Overview of the interactive process
- The key to navigating the process: focus on hiring or retaining a safe, qualified individual
- Who and what triggers the process?
- Frontline supervisor
- Union representative
- Designated disability or reasonable accommodation manager
- Managing a successful initial interview
- Implementing a request for medical documentation
- Find the nexus of disability, medical restriction, essential functions and reasonable accommodation
- If a medical restriction does not connect to a physical demand of the job, do I have to accommodate the individual?
- Tools to manage identification of a safe and effective accommodation
- Undue Hardship
- The trial period concept
- Long-term follow-up — changes in the job or the worker
- Direct Threat
- Responding to an official employment discrimination inquiry
- Failure to accommodate
- Non-compliance with the process
Reasonable Accommodation Question and Answer
We respond to a lot of interesting and challenging question fielded through our very active training, support and blogging work. Here is an example of the types of questions we will respond to during the reasonable accommodation training program:
- What do I do when a physician demands a specific accommodation solution such as an expensive chair or sit-stand station?
- What is the role of reasonable accommodation in a workers’ compensation case?
- I receive medical reports that say the worker did not try hard when tested and therefore cannot do his job? Do I still have to entertain reasonable accommodation?
- We don’t have job descriptions. How do I know if a disability is related to a job function?
- I heard there was a $155,000 settlement in Colorado involving lack of follow through with an agreed-upon accommodation. What does that mean?
- My nurses have to lift 400 pounds. How do I accommodate them?
- I don’t feel comfortable during difficult conversations. Any tips on how to navigate the interactive conversation for an unusual request for accommodation?
- What is the latest thinking about unpaid leave as an accommodation?
- Why is a transfer to an open position called, “the accommodation of last resort”?
- When a medical restriction is not linked to a physical demand of the worker’s job, do I have to accommodate the individual?
- How does my inability to read people’s minds turn into a non-compliance charge for failure to accommodate?
- I work with an individual who labels most workers’ compensation clients as “malingers.” How does that affect the reasonable accommodation process?
This workshop supports your learning process by presenting real life ADA Title I scenarios. At the beginning of the workshop, we will select one or two of the examples seen below to follow through the day. We encourage you to submit your interesting or difficult experiences, too. You may email materials before the event to email@example.com or call us at 603-358-6633.
Qualified Individual #1: Long-Term Propane Truck Driver
This 32 years old employee with no accident history is working his route when the truck goes into a ditch on a county road (because of loose gravel) and flips over. The unconscious driver was extracted from the vehicle with head and multiple orthopedic injuries. At the time of injury, the driver lives in a rural area, is a community volunteer, is a high school graduate with eight years of satisfactory job performance with this company, acts as a trainer for new drivers and is happily married with two children.
Driver recovers well physically from arm and leg fractures (and returns to work) but has increasing problems with short-term memory loss, headaches, emotional liability, weight gain, and lack of patience. He is getting lost on familiar routes and cannot do tasks requiring three-step processing. Customers complain that about the driver’s crabbiness, lack of customer service ethic, inaccurate invoicing, and being late. His employer is also noting forgetfulness with equipment maintenance and submitting reports.
The marriage is suffering, and volunteer work is no longer part of his after-work life. While rural medical care is available, post-concussive syndrome or another brain injury may not have been well addressed.
(Scenario provided by a senior insurance case manager.)
Qualified Individual #2: Experienced Custodian
A seasoned employee (age 30) falls from a 6-foot ladder while changing light bulbs, experiencing broken wrist, strained back, and concussion. Wrist and back injuries heal, and custodian returns to transitional work during his recovery time. However, concussive symptoms remain and appear to get worse. Issues include forgetfulness, fatigue, headaches, migraines with light and sound sensitivities, slower eye movements, and impatience with staff. He cannot remember room locations or match work slip assignments correctly, forgets safety and cleaning standards associated with work, and is often late to work.
(Case study provided by a senior insurance case manager.)
Qualified Individual #3: Nurse, General Duty
A nurse, age 32 with chronic lower back pain reinjures her back during a team transfer of a 400-pound, immobile patient. She returns to work as scheduled, assigned to “light duty” (telemetry monitoring) to coincide with six weeks of physical therapy. Twenty-eight days post injury the nurse presents for examination by a company physician. The physician orders no lifting over 20 pounds, no repeated squatting or bending, and no pushing/pulling of patients or equipment.
The physician orders a functional capacity evaluation. The vendor of the test advertises the evaluaiton as including:
“An objective Functional Capacity Evaluation that can be used to determine the functional abilities of an injured employee and their ability to safely return to their occupational duties. We will perform a comparison of the individual’s abilities as demonstrated during testing against the essential demands of their occupation. The report will identify whether the individual meets the essential demands of the position, and if they do not, the report will identify at what level they may safely perform based on their results.” The description of the evaluation also states, “Data from each test is collected using our state of the art motion capture systems.” The FCE reports states the following:
FCE Summary of Ability to Complete Tasks
The examinee demonstrated a consistent effort during 4 of 6 components of this evaluation. She demonstrated 2 of 6 indicators for self-limited performance during grip strength testing and a high coefficient of variation in 12 of 15 whole body strength tasks with three positive horizontal displacement values. While her overall performance is an accurate portrayal of her physical abilities, her significant self-limited performance during whole body strength testing is not.
Job Duty Recommendations
Based on the examinee’s performance, she meets the essential postural demands of her occupation. Based on her significantly self-limited performance during whole body strength testing, she does not meet the essential physical demands of her occupation.
Recommended Alterations to Job Demands
Based on the examinee’s significantly self-limiting performance during whole body strength testing, she does not meet the essential physical demands of her occupation. However, her significantly self-limited performance minimally meets the demands of light work as defined by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (20 pounds occasional, 10 pounds frequent, negligible constant).
(This scenario was provided by an employee considering a charge of discrimination. A formal charge of employment discrimination was not filed as the employer withdrew the functional capacity evaluation report after consultation with an ADA Coordinator with an extensive background in work evaluation under ADA Title I. The employee has returned to work in her original position.)
Roy Matheson, ADAC has a 30-year background in occupational rehabilitation and ergonomic evaluation training and professional certification. His initial exposure to employment testing began at the Employment and Rehabilitation Institute of California (ERIC) in 1983. The rehabilitation and work evaluation philosophies at the heart of the medical examination section of ADA Title I originated at ERIC under its founder, Dr. Leonard Matheson.
Work tolerance screening, work capacity evaluation (now known as ‘functional capacity evaluation’), and work hardening were introduced as new rehabilitation services at ERIC clinic. Roy Matheson’s contribution to the growth of employment testing under the Matheson philosophy was the development of training programs, software, and equipment used by therapists around the globe.
In 2012, the effect of federal court cases involving employment testing served as a call to action for Roy Matheson. In the ensuing years, he transitioned to what is now Reasonable Accommodation, LLC, and reasonable accommodation.com. His practice focuses on advising and training employers, government agencies, therapists, and legal counsel of the mechanics of medical examination and reasonable accommodation under ADA Title I.
Roy has presented as a keynote speaker, panelist, trainer, or workshop instructor at more than 400 public and private educational events, management training programs, and national conferences. His audience includes managers and staff of federal, state, county, and municipal government entities as well as the full spectrum of corporate entities across the United States, Canada, and six other countries. Roy’s body of work includes hundreds of online webinars and blogs related to Title I of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.
His consulting and guidance assignments address legal compliance issues raised under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. These issues include aspects of employment testing, essential function job analysis, and reasonable accommodation program start-up and management. Roy sees himself as a trusted adviser in demanding situations requiring clear, well-thought-out guidance within the environment of employment and disability-related civil rights law.