A LESSON ON THE ADA INTERACTIVE PROCESS

A recent case out of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is instructive in the need to engage in the interactive process under the ADA when an employee claims that a disability will impact his or her ability to do the job.

In the case of Lowe v. Independent School District No. 1 of Logan County, Oklahoma, an employee had a post-polio condition and was advised by her doctor to avoid standing and walking for long periods of time.  The employee was employed as a counselor and required no accommodations for her disability.  However, she was re-assigned to a position as a classroom teacher and shared concerns with her employer that she may require accommodations for this new position.  The employee was told that no accommodations would be made and she quite her job.

The Court found that this failure to engage in any interactive process on the part of the School District demonstrated that the employer may have violated the ADA by failing to make a good faith effort to determine if reasonable accommodations could be made to allow the employee to perform the job.  The case is instructive of the need to engage in the interactive process and that the failure to do so could in and of itself could be a possible violation of the ADA. 

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