For ADA and accommodating employee disabilities, think ‘Burger King’

ADA and Burger King?!? Has someone been eating too many Whoppers? No. But I did spend a 20 minute Uber ride yesterday sucking down mustard packets.

Actually, the inspiration for this post comes from Seattle Attorney, Michael Harrington, who presented “The Wild, the Weird and the Wonderful FMLA/ADAAA Cases…And the Lessons for Employers!” with me yesterday at the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) FMLA/ADAAA Employer Compliance Conference.

(If you want a copy of our PPT, please email me. I got you.)

During the takeaways from our presentation, I went with the tried-and-true, educate your employees about the procedures for requesting FMLA/ADA accommodations, and train your managers how to spot these requests, especially where the letters FMLA or ADA are not used.

But, Mike, who killed it yesterday during our presentation — the Penn to my Teller, the Bart to Milhouse — made it real simple. He suggested that companies train managers who deal with ADA requests to think about Burger King’s old slogan, “Have it your way.”

In other words, adopt a customer service mindset. By asking an employee what the company can do to accommodate a disability, the manager immediately helps promote the goals of the ADA: a good faith interactive dialogue designed to accommodate an employee with a disability to allow that employee to perform the essential functions of the job — unless doing so would create undue hardship for the employer.

So, next time an employee requests an accommodation, extra pickles, hold the tomato, and, “have it your way.”

(Unless there is another reasonable accommodation available or the accommodation would create undue hardship. But, you get the idea).

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