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ADA 101: Six Steps to the Interactive Process

This blog post is the second in our ADA 101 series. Click here to read our first blog post, which examines how an employee’s case can transfer between ADA and FMLA coverage, and outlines the eligibility requirements for each law.

Employee with a disability works from her wheelchair

So you've identified that your employee needs an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Now what?

One phrase that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brings up time and time again is the need for employers to engage in an “interactive process” with an employee to determine the best way to accommodate their disability in the workplace. A well-conducted interactive process helps both employer and employee, by helping them arrive at the best solution to help an employee with a disability work effectively, while also protecting the organization from costly litigation.

So what’s the best way of engaging in a constructive dialogue? Let’s take a look at six essential steps in the interactive process.

  1. Analyze the job and determine its essential functions. A function may be considered essential if one or more of the following is true: the job exists to perform that function, the function is highly specialized, or few employees are able to perform that function.

  2. Identify job-related restrictions and limitations. How does the employee’s disability prevent or hinder them from accomplishing certain tasks?

  3. Identify possible accommodations. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the typical work environment that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Examples of accommodations include modified duty, schedule or workplace policies; reassignment to a vacant position; or leave as an accommodation.

  4. Assess the feasibility of providing these accommodations. An employer is not required to provide an accommodation that would cause “undue hardship” (significant difficulty or expense) for their organization.

  5. Implement the “most appropriate” accommodation. If multiple accommodation options are available, an employer may choose the option that is less expensive or easier to provide.

  6. Regularly monitor and follow up with those involved to determine the effectiveness of the accommodation.

Don’t forget to document every step of the interactive process by keeping records of all notes and correspondence between the individuals involved in the case!


Want to learn more about managing the ADA in your workplace? Keep an eye out for Presagia’s upcoming ADA whitepaper, which will describe the legislation in more detail and provide employers with guidelines and tools for properly managing employee cases under the ADA.

To learn more about how technology can help your organization manage ADA accommodations alongside the FMLA and other leave laws and policies, check out our absence management software solutions.


About Presagia

Founded in 1987, Presagia has a long history of helping organizations solve complex business problems with easy-to-use solutions. Today, this means providing cloud-based absence management solutions that enable organizations to be more efficient, control lost time and risk, and strengthen compliance with federal, state and municipal leave and accommodation laws.


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