Engaging In Conversation About Accommodations Is Required For Employees With ADD

Written exclusively for My Community Workplace for Government

A New Jersey township will pay $175,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a firefighter, who has attention deficit disorder (ADD).

The firefighter alleged repeated harassment by his supervisor and a failure of the department to accommodate his ADD. The firefighter alleged that shortly after he filed formal harassment complaints, the fire chief transferred him to another firehouse and placed him on a different shift. The firefighter did not agree to these changes, and they did not address his accommodation needs.

The man will continue to work as a firefighter for the township. Craig McCarthy "Edison pays out $175,000 to settle suit over firefighter with ADD," www.nj.com (Sept. 17, 2017).

Commentary and Checklist

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to engage in an interactive process to determine what reasonable accommodation could allow an employee with a disability to perform his or her job duties. Reasonable accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Even if, after consultation with health care, job accommodation, and other experts, it turns out that there is no reasonable accommodation available that would not be an undue burden or a direct threat to the safety of others, the employer’s failure to engage in the interactive process can lead to liability.

Attention Deficit Disorder is a covered disability under the ADA. Employees with ADD can have difficulty with one or more workplace tasks, including time management, memory, concentration, organization, social skills, hyperactivity, and multi-tasking.

Most accommodations for ADD are simple and inexpensive. By identifying specifically how the employee’s limitations affect job performance, suitable accommodations can usually be found.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network (askjan.org) website offers several accommodation ideas for those with ADD. The level of support of an accommodation depends on the job duties the employee needs assistance performing.

Here are just a few:

  • Providing instructions, task lists, or check lists in writing
  • Offering verbal or pictorial versions of required procedures as well as written
  • Using flow-charts to illustrate steps in a task
  • Assigning a mentor to assist with organization
  • Allowing a supervisor to designate high priority tasks
  • Modifying communication methods to suit the employee's needs
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