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Disability Nondiscrimination and Best Practices in:

Interaction with State and Federal Legislation


General Considerations

  1. All medical and/or disability-related information is kept in locked files separate from personnel records, with limited access allowed by only select personnel
  2. HR personnel and supervisors are trained/informed in the confidentiality of medical records and information requirements of the ADA
  3. There is a written policy in place that articulates the possible intersection of the disability nondiscrimination requirements under the ADA with various organization disability and sickness absence polices covered under FMLA, Workers Compensation, and short term (STD), and/or long term (LTD) disability leave plans
  4. Health benefit plans should be designed so as not to limit coverage for a particular disability, a discrete group of disabilities, or a treatment or procedure used exclusively (or nearly exclusively) to treat a particular disability
  5. On-line access to health benefits, life insurance, workers' compensation, sickness leave and other personnel information is accessible to individuals with disabilities

Workers Compensation / Work-Related Injury

  1. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed on the ADA restrictions about pre-job offer inquiries relating to workers' compensation claims
  2. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed on the importance of limiting the scope of medical inquiries to the specific occupational injury necessary to determine an individual's initial or continued eligibility for workers' compensation benefits
  3. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed on when an injured worker returning to work following a work-related injury is entitled to reasonable accommodation, including possible reassignment (is a protected person under the ADA)
  4. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed on whether an injured worker who cannot return to full duties can be terminated after exhausting accommodation possibilities, including reassignment
  5. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed on when transitional, light duty work can be considered a permanent reassignment for reasonable accommodation purposes
  6. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed that filing a workers compensation claim does not prevent an injured worker from filing a charge under the ADA

Family and Medical Leave Act

  1. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed when an employee who requests FMLA leave is also covered by the ADA
  2. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed how to reconcile the permissible FMLA certification for a serious health condition, with the ADA's confidentiality requirements
  3. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed on the potential overlap between FMLA leave and the reasonable accommodation requirements under the ADA

Occupational Safety and Health Act

  1. Health and safety personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed on the safety considerations involved in returning an injured worker to the job, including providing reasonable accommodations
  2. Health and safety, employee assistance personnel, and supervisors have been trained/informed that it is permissible to discipline an employee, including an employee with a disability, who engages in risky behavior as defined by OSHA
  3. Health and safety personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed on when health and safety regulations supersede the confidentiality requirements of the ADA
  4. Health and safety personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed on whether worksite modifications or ergonomic changes constitute reasonable accommodations

Drug Free Workplace Act or Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act

  1. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed when an employee who is currently using alcohol is covered by the ADA
  2. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed that an employee who is currently using drugs illegally is not covered by the ADA
  3. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed when a past drug user is covered by the ADA
  4. HR personnel and supervisors have been trained/informed that it is permissible to suspend or fire an employee whose alcohol or drug use impairs job performance, even if it is related to a disability

National Labor Relations Act / Collective Bargaining

  1. The collective bargaining agreement includes a statement about specific protections or safeguards for individuals with disabilities, procedures for the reasonable accommodation process, or development of a light duty program
  2. The union is involved when an employee requests a reasonable accommodation, working with the employer to determine the appropriate accommodation
  3. Union representatives are trained/informed about the confidentiality requirements of the ADA surrounding medical and disability-related information, and the prohibitions regarding disability-related inquiries
  4. Shop stewards are afforded a role in disseminating information to union members about their rights under the ADA, and/or providing representation in grievance discussions when accommodation requests have been denied

© 2002 S. Bruyère, Cornell University, Program on Employment and Disability, School of Industrial and Labor Relations - Extension Division, USDE-NIDRR Grant #H133A70005

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