Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Sep 24, 2010

Accommodations must be effective to be reasonable under the ADA


A deaf employee, who could only read and write English at a fifth grade level, can proceed to trial on his claim for failure to accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The employee repeatedly requested a sign language interpreter for employee meetings and trainings. Instead, the company instructed his manager to give written summaries of meetings or assigned a co-worker to write down everything that was being said. The employee became frustrated because he couldnt understand the written notes, plus he missed out on the opportunity to participate in the meetings like other employees. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the accommodation efforts may not have been reasonable if they were ineffective; a jury will now decide that question (EEOC v. UPS Supply Chain Solutions, 9th Cir, Aug. 2010).

Tips: Accommodations are useless if they arent effective. When engaging in the interactive process, keep in mind youre not only looking for an accommodation that fits your workplace, but also one that effectively assists the employee. Be sure to address any frustrations an employee may be having with an accommodation that youve provided. For more, check out our Legal Guide, ADA: Reasonable Accommodation and the Interactive Process (1078).

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.