What do you really know about the “interactive process” under the Americans with Disabilities Act? This is one area in which I am always getting questions, and I think it’s the terminology that scares employers. “Interactive process” sounds so intimidating.
Instead of “interactive process,” it should be called “sit-down.”
When an individual needs a reasonable accommodation, the employer is supposed to have an actual or virtual “sit-down” with the individual to brainstorm about reasonable accommodation options. As with all sit-downs, face to face is best, but it’s also fine to do it by telephone or email.
Once all the accommodation options are on the table, the employer considers them all, giving due consideration to any suggestions made by the individual. The employer then chooses the one that works best. If the employee suggests an accommodation that costs $10,000, and the employer knows of an effective accommodation that costs $10, the employer has the right under the law to pick the $10 accommodation.
Sometimes neither the individual nor the employer will know of any accommodation that will work. In that case, you document what you did, and take whatever action is appropriate under the circumstances.
Isn’t that easy?
Now that you’ve had that quickie lesson on the ADA
“sit-down” “interactive” process, here’s a quiz. As usual, there is no grading and no pressure, because the answers immediately follow the questions.
The correct answer, of course, is “Talking directly about reasonable accommodations with the individual.”
You did a great job! Read on . . .