The interactive process is when the employer and employee discuss the limitations or performance issues that an employee’s disability may pose. This discussion is utilized to determine what or if any accommodations may be needed. The interactive process must be an ongoing effort where the employer looks at the job responsibilities and requirements versus any specific physical or mental limitations of the individual that are directly related to the need for reasonable accommodation.
Whether an employee requests an accommodation or the employer receives a doctor’s note for an accommodation, companies should be aware that they are required to hold an interactive process discussion with the employee. Employers that become aware of an employee’s need for accommodation simply through observation must engage in an interactive process discussion as well.
If an employee’s request for accommodation is denied, it is the employer’s responsibility to continue discussing possible alternatives for the employee. Companies cannot discriminate or retaliate against employees that are requesting an accommodation. Furthermore, failure to reasonably accommodate an employee is illegal and can lead to severe consequences.
It is important that you partner with HR when there is a need for reasonable accommodations or the interactive process to ensure compliance. Please contact JH Consulting at 714-321-2279 for assistance.