Did you know that March was Brain Injury Awareness Month? “Brain injuries can and do happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone; brain injuries do not discriminate.” A traumatic brain injury is a blow or jolt to the head, often resulting from a fall, motor vehicle crash, workplace accident or assault...or from bombs exploding, as experienced by our military. Of the 1.7 million people who sustain a brain injury, nearly 80% are treated and released...and want to return to work.
If you have job openings, you will probably have applicants with this hidden disability. You probably already have existing employees who haven’t disclosed a need for a workplace support due to a prior brain injury. The ADA requires employers to provide a “reasonable accommodation” to applicants & employees, if needed, to give an equal opportunity to apply for & be considered for a job OR stay employed with your company.
But, how do you do that if the individual hasn’t disclosed their disability & a need for an accommodation? Train your supervisors/managers to recognize these requests. Requests for accommodation come in a variety of ways. Folks don't have to clearly say, "I need a reasonable accommodation." That would make it way too simple! If an employee says they're having a problem, that should certainly put you on notice. If any employee says they're having a problem, what do you usually do? You find a solution, right? Often, the employee links a request to a medical issue (e.g., my chair is uncomfortable due to an MS flair up). When an employee is cited for poor performance, that’s a good time to ask if there’s anything you can do to provide assistance. You want to create an atmosphere where your employees are comfortable asking for what they need. If the disability isn’t obvious, you can ask for some documentation. You are entitled to get some documentation about this medical condition, but it's not an opportunity for you to go on a fishing expedition about the medical condition.
Springboard provides staff training to help your company recognize & appropriately respond in a way that mitigates your risk. Don’t get caught off guard. You can also subscribe to Springboard’s ADA Hotline for solutions to your ADA-related challenges.
This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.