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Workplace Solutions to Common and Uncommon ADA Issues

May 21, 1999
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Related Topics: Disabilities, Featured Article
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As plaintiffs become more creative in bringing claims under the ADA, employers must respond with increasingly novel workplace accommodations. The following list details some interesting workplace ADA solutions.

Issue:
An employee with a disability is unable to perform certain marginal functions of her job, yet none of her coworkers has any free time to handle these responsibilities. How can an employer solve this problem without hiring another employee?

Solution:
Switch the marginal functions of two or more employees in order to accommodate the employee with a disability. First, identify marginal functions currently being performed by one or more coworkers that the employee in question is qualified to perform. Then, switch the assignment of these marginal functions to the employee with a disability.

Issue:
A bakery worker with mental retardation had trouble placing cookie dough on baking sheets by precise numbers and patterns. How did the employer respond?

Solution:
A plastic template was made for the sheets, with holes indicating the precise placing patterns, so that the employee was able to perform the job.

Issue:

An employer is faced with choosing between an applicant with a disability and a more qualified nondisabled applicant. What should the employer do?

Solution:
Employers are not required to give preference to an applicant with a disability over more qualified nondisabled applicants. Employers are free to select the most qualified applicant available and to make decisions based on reasons unrelated to the existence or consequence of a disability.

Issue:
A receptionist, who was blind, could not see the lights on her telephone, which indicated whether the telephone lines were ringing, on hold, or in use at her company. What course of action was taken?

Solution:
A light-probe (a pen-like device that detected a lighted button) was purchased. Cost: $45.

Issue:
A medical technician who was deaf could not hear the buzz of a timer, which was necessary for specific laboratory tests. How did the employer respond?

Solution:
An indicator light was attached to the timer. Cost: $27.

Issue:
An individual with dyslexia who worked as a police officer spent hours filling out forms at the end of each day. What did the employer do?

Solution:
The officer was provided with a tape recorder and a secretary typed his reports from dictation rather than from his handwritten reports. Cost: $69.

SOURCE: CCH Incorporated is a leading provider of information and software for human resources, legal, accounting, health care and small business professionals. CCH offers human resource management, payroll, employment, benefits, and worker safety products and publications in print, CD, online, and via the Internet. For more information and other updates on the latest HR news, check our Web site at http://hr.cch.com/.

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