Is your business prepared to comply with changes to the American Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) that go into effect next week? The new, broader definition of disability increases the chances you can be sued for discrimination by employees, former employees, interns and job applicants. Here are some best practices that can help limit your risk.
- Review your Employment Practice Liability Insurance (EPLI). If your business has grown or changed significantly, you may be underinsured. If you don’t have EPLI, you can get competitive quotes for EPLI coverage on this website.
- Stay informed about revisions to ADAAA and EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) regulations. Visit their websites and sign up for news alerts. Pay attention to new suits and judgments that come in the wake of the new regulations.
- Review your company’s policies and procedures. Even if your business is too small to have an HR department, you should still have written policies that address discrimination on the job relative to hiring, promoting, termination and on-the-job interactions. The U.S. Justice Department has released helpful guidelines, The ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business that you can down load free at their website.
- You should also review your company’s job descriptions (both printed and electronic). Make sure that any essential functions referenced really are job-related. If you don’t have formal job descriptions, now is a good time to draft them in compliance with the new ADAAA regulations.
- Bring your management team together to make them aware of the ADAAA changes. Provide them with the proper procedures to follow, especially if an employee requests an accommodation. At bare minimum, managers and supervisors should be advised never to refuse a request outright. You should also ask them to review any past requests that were refused so that you can take remedial actions.
- Document all employee requests for accommodations. The employee doesn’t have to refer to a disability, use the word accommodation or refer to the ADA, nor do the requests have to be in writing. It’s up to you, the employer, and your management team to keep a record of any request and the follow-up to it. This will go a long way to demonstrating good faith, should the employee file a complaint.
For more information, read Part One of this series.