Be Clear About What Accommodations Are Being Provided
A recent case reminds employers about the need to be very clear about what accommodations are being provided to disabled employees.
In Kassa v. Synovus Financial Corp., a network support analyst with bipolar and intermittent explosive disorders requested to be excused from certain customer service calls and to continue being allowed to take short breaks that would enable him to control his anger. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found that answering customer service calls was an essential function of the analyst’s job, and therefore his requested exemption was not reasonable. As to the short breaks, however, the employee testified that his prior supervisor had permitted him to take such breaks, with positive results, but that all such accommodations stopped when he was assigned to the new supervisor. Although the new supervisor testified that he allowed employees to take breaks when they became frustrated, the Eleventh Circuit found that the analyst’s testimony should be given credit at this stage of the case, and refused to dismiss this denial of accommodation claim.
It appears the supervisor/employer was not clear with the employee regarding the continuation of his requested accommodation of short breaks. The lesson that can be drawn is that employers should be very clear about what accommodations are being provided, and document those accommodations, so there can be no doubt about what was discussed and agreed upon.