Best way to prevent (or win) ADA lawsuit: Document all accommodation discussions.

Disabled workers are entitled to reasonable accommodations to be able to perform the essential functions of their jobs. To determine what's "reasonable," employers and employees must have an interactive discussion.

But if you ultimately turn down the request (or take other adverse action), the employee may sue. And that's when you need good records to prove you acted in good faith.

For that reason, make sure managers and HR staff document every conversation, email, text or phone call related to disability accommodations. Create a chronological log showing what the employee requested, and when and how you responded.

Recent case: Regina, an IT worker at a medical company, worked in the office before switching to all remote work. When the company began requiring employees to be in the office on Wednesdays for training, Regina refused. She told the company that she had an anxiety disorder and needed to work from home.

HR sent Regina information on accommodations and asked for more details. However, Regina's doctor failed to provide any more details.

The company fired Regina for missing a training session. She sued, alleging failure to accommodate.

The court sided with her and sent her case to trial, saying the company hadn't shown that Regina broke off discussions--only that her doctor didn't provide more details. The company could have sought the information directly from Regina and documented what happened next. (Costa v. Genesis, ED PA)

ADA: How to document the 'interactive process'

Employers are required to engage in an "interactive process" to determine possible accommodations for...

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