The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) helped pave the way to protect the rights for those with disabilities. It protects disabled workers by requiring certain reasonable accommodations in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that certain aspects of workers’ compensation actually may be an ADA violation.
Postponing Reasonable Accommodation Process
The heart of the issue revolves around the postponement of the “reasonable accommodation process” required under the ADA. When a worker suffers an injury on the job, the worker is obligated to notify the employer of that injury. The worker then should seek a medical exam.
According to an article by EEOC’s Aaron Konopasky, JD, and Jennifer Christian, MD, MPH, the employer should begin the interactive process of looking for reasonable accommodation so the worker can perform his or her job duties. Under workers’ comp, this process may not begin until the worker reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI). But the authors argue that under the ADA, this process should begin much sooner.
If a worker is injured, the ADA may require that workplace reasonable accommodations begin immediately, regardless of whether the condition is stable or still evolving. If the worker is not remaining within the workplace but is instead recovering at home or in a health clinic/hospital, then the Act would be applicable at the date when the worker is stable enough to begin work with accommodations. In fact, the employer should consider additional forms of reasonable accommodation if the employee is unable to return to his or her job with some reasonable accommodations already made.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) Section 4(1), any conditions that are substantial and serious enough to require medical restrictions or cause major life limitations likely will qualify as disabilities under the Act. As such, reasonable accommodations are required under law.
What are reasonable accommodations?
Reasonable accommodation refers to changes in the employee’s workplace or job to accommodate his or her disability. For example, a common accommodation that should be present at any modern building is a wheelchair ramp or other means of access for employees in a wheelchair. In other cases, it may include performing light duty for a period of time until the employee is able to resume normal activities.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Help after an Injury
If you believe an insurer or employer violated your rights in the workplace – either under workers’ compensation or under the ADA – speak with an attorney. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Des Moines, our workplace injury attorneys will help you recover the benefits to which you are entitled. If you’re ready to begin, call us at (888) 435-9886 or set up a consultation by filling out our online contact form.