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Disabilities At Work

MARY KEATING: There are certain disabilities that might be obvious to the employer during an interview and the proper question is can you do all these, such as functions of this job with or without a reasonable accommodation.

ROCHELLE EISENBERG: Most people have disabilities that do not disqualify them doing the work.

MARY KEATING: So, rather than say are you disabled, which is a no-no, you can say can you do these functions, tell the employee what the functions are and then if it gets into a reasonable accommodation discussion, you should and you must have the discussion with someone, especially if the someone becomes an employee, about what kinds of accommodations are necessary.

ROCHELLE EISENBERG: The only way you can reject a job candidate based on disability is if that disability prevents the employee from performing an essential function of the job.

MARY KEATING: For example, if driving is an essential function of the job, you can ask the employee what kind of accommodations would you need and you can consider how expensive they would be for you to comply with him.

MARY KEATING: Most accommodations that an employer required to make are very low cost, for instance allowing somebody who has to see a doctor once a week to go to the doctor.

ROCHELLE EISENBERG: One issue that frequently comes up when we are talking about disabilities and we get this a lot is absenteeism. You have a disability that causes you to be absent. Take a schoolteacher, a teacher might have a disability causing him or her to miss school every other day or that person is not performing any essential function of the job. Because in order to meet the protections of the law you still have to be able to perform the essential functions of the job.

MARY KEATING: If the employee cannot drive medically certain hours or ever, it may be an accommodation to give the employee a driver, but if no one else needs a driver that may very well be too expensive an accommodation that you can turn down.

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