If this employee’s condition significantly impacts one or more major life activities and is expected to last for at least several months, this employee has a right to an accommodation. Working with your local HR manager and Medical Leaves Administration office at Cornell, the process of finding an effective reasonable accommodation must now be set into motion.
2. When an employee simply says he has a health condition that impacts his work, but does not specifically mention accommodation, the manager should take a “wait and see” attitude.
If it seems that this condition impacts a major life activity and is likely to last six months or more, it is safe to assume that this employee has rights under the ADA. In this case, this employee’s disclosure should be considered a request for a disability accommodation.
3. As much as possible, a manager should handle disability issues herself.
Managers should not try to handle disability issues on their own. Always reach out to your local HR manager and the Medical Leaves Administration office at Cornell when dealing with disability issues on your work team.
4. When an employee first tells you about a disability, the important thing is to start by listening.
Chances are, the employee has the most valuable information about his disability and how it impacts the job. Before taking any other action, simply be an effective and respectful listener. Then discuss with the employee what will happen next.
5. A manager has a right to know what medications an employee is taking while on the job.
Managers should not ask employees about their medications. But if a manager sees an employee who could clearly pose a direct threat to the safety of others (for example, an employee who’s visibly drowsy and has a job that involves driving), the manager should take steps to mitigate the situation.
6. This remark from an employee should trigger the accommodation process, “I’m going to need to leave a little early because I have to drive all the way to the VA hospital to get my treatments.”
The employee has told you two things with this remark. First, she’s told about a disability. Second, she’s told you that this disability impacts the job (she had to leave early). In this case, you need to begin the accommodation process by privately asking this employee if she needs an accommodation. This should be followed up by starting the accommodation process at Cornell. Contact Cornell’s Medical Leaves Administration office at 607.255.1177 for more information.
7. The manager should inform all co-workers when an employee has a disability so that work is not interrupted.
Co-workers should not be told about an employee’s disability. If co-workers have questions about why an employee who is getting an accommodation is doing something differently, simply state this employee has requested this change in the way he does his job so that he can perform his job better. Generally, make sure that all employees know that they have a right to an accommodation and that an accommodation is not a “special favor.”
8. An employee with bipolar disorder would not be considered a direct threat to others unless there was a reasonable belief based on evidence that this employee posed a probable danger to others.
Employees with disabilities such as bipolar disorder or depression are rarely violent to others. Simply having a diagnosis of a mental illness would not be considered a threat to safety unless the employee had done something that provided clear evidence that they could be a danger to others, such as threatening violence or behaving in a dangerous manner.
9. When an employee comes forward with a disability, the first thing a manager should do is make a note of this into the employee’s personnel records.
When an employee comes forward with a disability, put on your “coaching” hat before you put on your “lawyer’s” hat: Point out our commitment to Cornell employees and to disability as part of diversity, listen, acknowledge the employee’s effort to come forward, focus on the work, and let the employee know about next steps.