Employers with 15 or more employees, including State and local governments, must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means, if an employee brings to the employer’s attention their disability, the employer must engage in an interactive process with the employee and help provide a reasonable accommodation(s) for that employee, so long as the employee can continue performing the essential functions of their job with those accommodations.
However, employers sometimes either stretch the time by when to engage in the interactive process or the time by when to provide the accommodations. By doing so, the employer may worsen the employee’s disability or lead the employee to resignation, while still claiming to have attempted to accommodate the handicap or disability. In extreme cases, employers prolong the time to provide accommodations to the point of permanently disabling the employee.
At that point, a reasonable accommodation is clearly futile as it will no longer help the employee fulfill the essential functions of the their job duties since they are now permanently disabled and are unable to fulfill any job duties. As a result, employers may claim that they are no longer bound to provide accommodations under the ADA because the employee is completely incapable of working. This is, of course, not a viable defense as it disregards the underlying purpose of the ADA and may even create additional liability on behalf of the employer for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress.
If you have reported a disability to your employer and they have failed to engage in the interactive process with you, or failed to provide requested accommodation(s) in accordance with your physician’s recommendation(s), whether it resulted in your temporary or permanent disability, please contact us. At Wilson McCoy, P.A. our firm will immediately assist you in evaluating your matter and determine your employer’s potential liability. Our number is 407-803-5400 or you mail e-mail us at [email protected]