The Cornell Just-in-Time Toolkit for Managers

Tips, checklists, and resources to help managers lead a disability inclusive workforce.

Topic #8
When a Performance Issue Might Be Due To a Disability:
Addressing the Situation
1. Employees with disabilities cannot be reprimanded or terminated because this is discrimination.
2. A manager who suspects that a performance problem could be due to a disability should begin by treating this as any other performance issue.
3. When an employee with a performance issue tells her manager she has a disability, her performance should be re-evaluated after an accommodation has been put into place.
4. Once a manager suspects that a disability impacts an employee’s job performance, the manager should, during a private conversation, openly discuss with the employee the possibility that a disability impacts their performance.
5. During a performance discussion, focus on concrete examples that illustrate a performance issue.
6. Employees with disabilities who have performance issues should be given honest and concrete feedback, just like any other employee.
7. Once a manager finds out that an employee has a disability, all prior disciplinary actions or negative performance appraisals must be withdrawn and taken off the record.
8. A termination action must be rescinded if an employee tells their manager that a disability was the cause of the performance that led to the termination action.
9. The best way to prevent situations where a disability impacts performance is to ensure that all employees are informed about accommodation processes and options.
10. Research tells us that employees with disabilities, on average, perform nearly as well as those without disabilities.