Black Friday HR-Dorkbuster!!! Silent ADA accommodation requests

[Because “The one about the guy who got fired and then requested a reasonable accommodation” isn’t clickbait enough].

More on the timing of ADA accommodation requests after the jump…

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Most job descriptions that I’ve read for human resources positions include a laundry list of skills and qualifications. However, I have yet to see “clairvoyance” listed.

So, while the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that employers must provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability to allow that employee to perform the essential functions of the job, the onus is on the employee to request said accommodation. 

The employer does not have to guess.

And if that request happens to come after the employee is fired, a recent appellate decision from the Sixth Circuit reminds us how that’s gonna work out for the employee. Oh, wait, here’s the quote:

As part of establishing a failure-to-accommodate claim under the ADA, an employee must demonstrate that he or she requested an accommodation before being fired….The employer must first be given a chance to grant or deny an accommodation while the employee is still presently employed in order for the employee to allege that the employer failed to accommodate him or her.

Actually, this case is a bit more complex than I’ve led on. It involved an employee who, prior to getting fired, had been accommodated with a series of extended leaves. And, as Jon Hyman notes here at the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, this can present a complicated set of issues for employers:

Leaves of absence and reasonable accommodations are two of the trickier workplace issues facing employers. When those two issues converge with one employee, the complexities increase exponentially. As Judge v. Landscape Forms illustrates, unpaid leaves of absence are not a guaranteed entitlement, and employees must ask for for accommodation before being able to sue over its denial.

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