Vigilant Blog

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

Dec 30, 2014

Collaboration and communication key to disability accommodation


When a disability interferes with an employee’s ability to work, Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) requires employers to engage in a collaborative process to search for reasonable accommodations, and eventually explore other available positions that meet the employee’s restrictions, ruled a federal district court.

An employee in a paper mill started to have uncontrollable vomiting when exposed to a variety of chemicals. The employee saw many doctors who provided various work restrictions. In response, the employer moved the employee to different locations in the mill, but the vomiting continued. Eventually the employer told the employee to stay home until he was 100 percent better, even though the employee was cleared to work in certain positions with less chemical exposure. The court said the employee can now take his case to a jury (Galloway v. Boise, Inc., ED Wash, Oct. 2014).

Tips: It’s not uncommon for employers to become frustrated when dealing with an employee’s changing restrictions, but WLAD and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) set a high standard for employers to attempt finding a solution. In the interactive process, you are expected to accept restrictions and recommendations from the employee and their health care professional and then determine if an accommodation can be made.

Contact your Vigilant employment law attorney to find reasonable accommodations which will allow you to be compliant. See our Legal Guide, “ADA: Reasonable Accommodation and the Interactive Process.”

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.