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WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATIONS

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other state and federal laws & regulations, an employer is obligated to make a "reasonable accommodation" to any employee who has difficulty in performing their job function, in the work environment and with the tools and materials made available by the employer.  It is not unusual for employer and employee to disagree about what constitutes a "reasonable accommodation" in a given situation.  Even if an employer feels justified in saying “no” to an employee request, and feels confident in being able to prevail if the employee files a discrimination complaint, the employer could still pay a price in two ways:

  1. The out-of-pocket costs, time, and energy involved in defending against the discrimination complaint, and

  2. Loss of employee morale and productivity for this and possibly other employees.

Collaborative mediation can offer a more cost-effective solution to the problem.  It will often generate creative alternatives previously not considered by either the employee or the employer, at a cost that is acceptable to the employer and which satisfies the concerns of the employee.  Such a solution can end up being a public work relations "win" for the employer in the eyes of employees.

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