Does it matter when you ask for the ADA?
April 3, 2011 8:26 PM   Subscribe

Time frame: Does it matter when you ask for accommodations under the ADA? Two weeks in, I brought a doctor's note to the manager of my new job. He wanted to know if I had asked for accommodations when I was hired. I hadn't, because I didn't know the job would aggravate my condition. I had thought I would just try it and see. Anyway, he told me I had to go to HR and fill paperwork out. Do you have to ask at the time you're hired? (Why would I ask for accommodations if everything seemed fine at the time?) Thanks in advance.
posted by Prairie to Law & Government (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As IANAL I can't really1 answer your question, but: is your manager actually saying you should have asked earlier? Or is he just making sure that it isn't the case that you did ask but got ignored (whether out of CYA or kindness)?

1 Although I have a hard time imagining that you are required to ask when you're hired; what if your disability gets worse or your job changes slightly? But I'm applying reason to a matter of law and that doesn't always work.
posted by hattifattener at 8:45 PM on April 3, 2011

I don't know the answer to your question, but two weeks in seems close enough to 'when you're hired' to me. If your boss is upset, it sounds like there is some internal procedure that is not being followed. However, their dumb policy is not your problem, as you've acted responsibly by not asking for accommodation until you were certain it was needed in order to spare potentially unnecessary expense and trouble, so stick up for yourself if anyone hassles you.

The ADA: Your Employment Rights as an Individual With a Disability
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:46 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

No, it doesn't matter when you ask for an accommodation. Even after ten years on a job you can ask, because things can change. But as soon as you do ask, the employer is required to provide reasonable accommodation. Your boss was likely in CYA mode - had you previously requested an accommodation and hadnt received it, that's a possible EEOC charge.
posted by rhapsodie at 9:20 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

More than likely his directing you to HR is just company policy and protecting your privacy. With my employer, as a manager or supervisor I am not the one authorizing any ADA accommodations, that all goes through HR. I am not even told of the specifics reasons, just that we are making accommodations.

I have a rep that tries to gives me a lot of details regarding her health issues and the reasons behind her having an open-end medical leave waiver. Technically I don't need to know any of that. As long as HR has received documentation from her physician that she indeed needs an accommodation due to health related reasons, we're good to go.
posted by tar0tgr1 at 9:37 PM on April 3, 2011

This is just me using common sense, which doesn't always apply to the real world, but wouldn't you have had to fill out paperwork even if you had said something about this the second you were hired?
posted by theichibun at 6:10 AM on April 4, 2011

My first thought when I read this was that the manager might be thinking that if you had asked during the hire process, then maybe they wouldn't have hired you. It would have made his life easier to get someone without special snowflake baggage.

Totally illegal, totally insensitive and unfair, but that's what I was thinking that the manager meant when I read your question.
posted by CathyG at 7:43 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with rhapsodie, it sounds to me like your boss was thinking "Oh crap, did she do this 2 weeks ago and it didn't get to me?" and when he found out the answer was no, he told you how to deal with it, which is (almost always) to go through HR and fill out the necessary paperwork. If he wanted to know whether you asked when you were hired that would be too late for them to un-hire you, you were already hired.
posted by brainmouse at 8:25 AM on April 4, 2011

Best answer: I am an employment lawyer and have been for 16 years. I am going to answer a slightly different question so I'm not providing specific legal advice to you:

"Is a disabled employee required to request accommodation at the outset of his or her employment in order to be eligible for an accommodation under the ADA?"

The answer is, unequivocally, no. (Bear in mind that an employee would still have to establish that they were "disabled" under the ADA, and that the requested accommodation is "reasonable" and will not cause an "undue hardship.")
posted by pardonyou? at 9:15 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Bear in mind that an employee would still have to establish that they were "disabled" under the ADA

IANAL. The OP may also want to look into whether their state laws provide any protection. In California, it's my understanding that some conditions that aren't considered disabling under the ADA are considered to be so under AB 2222 (depression being a biggie).
posted by Lexica at 9:17 PM on April 5, 2011

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