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Reasonable accommodation and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Many of our Colorado readers are probably familiar with some of the protections including in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Like many employment laws in America, this Act is designed to protect employees and potential employees from discrimination. The ADA in particular is focused on protecting those employees or potential employees who suffer from some form of disability. What many people may not know, however, is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is usually involved in lawsuits that allege violations of the ADA.

A recent lawsuit filed on behalf of a food services worker at a medical provider is a good example. In that case, the EEOC filed a lawsuit alleging that the employer violated the ADA by failing to provide an employee with reasonable accommodations for his disability in the workplace. According to the reports, the employee has a disability that affects his memory and concentration, and also causes some dizziness. The employee claims to have requested more time to learn his new role with the medical provider, but the lawsuit claims that he was fired instead.

The "reasonable accommodation" provision of the ADA has been controversial for some time, with many employers worried that they are required to do too much to change their workplace or work practices to help an employee with a disability. In this case, however, it appears that very little actually needed to be done by the employer. The reports indicated that a non-profit organization would have helped this employee adjust to his new job at no expense.

When someone thinks they have been the victim of discrimination under the protections of the ADA the EEOC or a state investigatory body usually needs to be contacted quickly. In Colorado, an employee or potential employee has 300 days to file a claim.

Source: The Press-Enterprise, "EEOC sues Kaiser for discrimination," Jack Katzanek, Sept. 4, 2013

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