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Oct16

ADD & exempt status as a reasonable accomodation?

Employees with an ADD-Inattentive diagnosis often need additional time to meet deadlines. What types of reasonable accommodations are commonly granted in this kind of situation? In an occupation that with many employers is exempt-status and with many other employers is non-exempt, this ADD employee seeks exempt status as a way to have enough time to meet deadlines without the employer incurring overtime costs. Yet the employer refuses to reconsider the exempt-status request, since the occupation had years earlier been determined to be non-exempt. (Note: The employer has lost litigation on previously having wrongly classified other positions as exempt). When an occupation can reasonably be considered exempt or non-exempt, is it lawful for an employer to deny exempt status as a reasonable accommodation? Is it lawful for an employer to deny the exempt-status request without providing a detailed explanation?

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which covers employers with fifteen or more employees, prohibits discrimination against an individual who can perform the essential functions of his job with or without reasonable accommodation. Under the ADA, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to allow employees with disabilities to do their jobs.

Employers have an obligation to participate in discussions with employees to include an interactive exchange of information which specifically addresses reasonable accommodations. However, employers are not required to agree to any and every request from an employee. Employers aren’t required to provide an accommodation that would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business. Undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense for the employer considering its size and resources. If claiming undue hardship be sure to have sufficient evidence to back up your decision.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage and overtime regulations. Under the act, employees are classified as non-exempt or exempt from overtime provisions. To be exempt an employee must pass all three “tests” as described by the FLSA; salary level, salary basis, and duties. Employers must be careful in classifying employees as exempt since incorrect classifications can lead to back pay and costly fines. Employers cannot classify an employee as exempt simply to avoid paying overtime wages. Accommodations that may subject the employer to possible violations under the FLSA are not considered reasonable.

There is no requirement to inform employees of the reason for the denial of an accommodation request. However, it is recommended in order to fully engage in an interactive communication about accommodations. If the employer deems a requested accommodation is unrealistic than different types of accommodations should be discussed. Suggestions for accommodations depend on many factors including the limitations of the employee, the effect of such limitations on the job and what accommodations can be made to reduce or eliminate these problems. Reasonable accommodations in this situation may include restructuring the job to allow larger projects to be divided in to smaller projects with generous timelines and/or providing an organizer to keep track of assignments and deadlines.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 1:12 pm and is filed under
Human Resources Management, Labor Laws.
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