Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Q&A on applying performance and conduct standards to employees with disabilities

It is an oversimplification to simply say that employers should hold disabled employees to the same conduct standards as non-disabled employees. Certain conditions may require modifications of conduct and performance standards as a reasonable accommodation to enable an employee to perform the essential functions of the job adequately. To clarify these issues, the EEOC has published a comprehensive Q&A on Applying Performance and Conduct Standards to Employees with Disabilities.

According to the EEOC:

Although, an employee’s disability typically has no bearing on performance or conduct, sometimes an individual's disability may contribute to performance or conduct problems. When this is the case, a simple reasonable accommodation often may be all that is needed to eliminate the problem. However, EEOC continues to receive questions from both employers and employees about issues such as what steps are appropriate where a disability is causing – or seems to be causing – a performance or conduct problem, when a request for accommodation should be made, and when an employer can properly raise the issue of an employee’s disability as part of a discussion about performance or conduct problems. Even when the disability is not causing the performance or conduct problem, some employers still have questions about what action they can take in light of concerns about potential ADA violations.

The Q&A covers topics such as:

  • Seeking medical information when there are performance or conduct problems
  • Attendance issues
  • Dress codes
  • Alcoholism and illegal use of drugs
  • Confidentiality issues arising from granting reasonable accommodation to avoid performance or conduct problems

It's a must read for any company dealing with a disabled employee who is not meeting standards or who is having conduct or discipline problems potentially attributable to a disability.