Q&A: Part 1: ADA administration

Lucy Henry, People Operations Advisor at TriNet Zenefits
Nov 10, 2022

If you’re a company with over 15 employees, it is a federal requirement that you comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In this episode, Lucy Henry, People Operations Advisor at TriNet Zenefits, helps describe the ADA and the steps involved in complying with the interactive process. Additional Resources: Order your copy of our […]

If you’re a company with over 15 employees, it is a federal requirement that you comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In this episode, Lucy Henry, People Operations Advisor at TriNet Zenefits, helps describe the ADA and the steps involved in complying with the interactive process.

Additional Resources:

Ask a SMB Workplace Question and get featured on POPS! The People Ops podcast.

On this episode, you’ll hear:

  • [00:35] What is ADA?
  • [01:49] How businesses must comply
  • [03:00] The ADA interactive process, step by step
  • [06:05] What’s considered undue hardship on the employer?


Welcome to Pops, the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people operations for the new world of work. How by answering one question at a time. I’m Lucy Henry, people operations Advisor at TriNet Zenefits here to help answer the question, what is the ADA interactive process?

So first I thought it would be best to start out by reviewing what the ADA is and then dive into the ADA interactive process. The ada Americans with Disabilities Act protects Americans that have disabilities in many public settings, one of which is in the workforce. Title, One of the ADA states that it prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in applying for jobs, hiring, firing, and job training.

The ADA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life. It goes on to state that major life activities are defined as the following, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, breathing, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

That was a mouth. The ADA requires employers with over 15 employees to comply with many requirements. However, today we will primarily be discussing the ADA interactive process and what exactly that consists of as an employer with over 15 employees, it is a federal requirement that as an as a company, you comply with the ada.

If an employee brings up a disability or even if they don’t bring up a disability, but you’re aware of one, it your duty initiate the interactive with the employee to start that, of trying reasonably accommodate their disability. So when do you start this process? So there are a few ways that a scenario like this could come about.

I’m give you a couple of examples. However, do keep in mind that there are ways that this, that don’t, like one way is pretty straightforward. The employee comes directly to you and asks for an accommodation for their disability. Another way, for example, could be that you hear an employee discussing with their coworker their disability and how hard it is to perform their job duties.

Since you work for that company and act as either HR or a managerial role, it is now your responsibility to initiate the ADA process with the employee because you are aware of their potential dis. So what is this ADA interactive process? Here is a brief overview of the process step by step. This is a lot of information I’m going throw at you, so bear with me.

Step number one, the employer becomes aware of the employee’s disability, just like we were just talking about. That can happen in multiple different ways. Step number two, either the employer or employee starts the interactive process. Step number three, the employer and employee sit down and have a discussion about the employee’s disability, and the employer explains the ADA to the employee.

The employee can then decide to move forward with participating in the interactive process with the employer or not. If the employee feels as though they could benefit from a possible accommodation in place that will aid their disability, then the employee should participate in the ADA interactive process.

The employer provides the employee an ADA medical certification, and the employee should work with their medical provider Complete Disability Step. The employer also provide the employee copy of their job description to help aid the employees doctor with completing the medical certification as it relates to their p.

Step number six, the employer should allow the employee a reasonable amount of time to return the completed medical certification. So the ADA does not specifically specify a time limit. However, many employers typically do follow FMLAs time limit of 15 days as a reasonable amount of time. If the employee needs additional time to get this completed, they should absolutely request this from their employer.

Step number seven, once the employer receives the completed medical certification from the employees doctor, the next step is for the employee and employer to discuss and review the medical certification and potential accommodations that may help this employee complete their job duties to the best of their ability.

So this is the interactive discussion and potential accommodation. Being discussed is a two way street. So the employee and employer need to be actively involved in this conversation for it to work effectively and for them to come up with an accommodation together. Step number nine, decide on an accommodation together that is reasonable.

If the employee suggests an accommodation and it is considered an undue hardship to the employer, the employer can deny the request. However, the employer should try to counter the suggestion with a more reasonable accommodation idea that is feasible for the company. If the employee and employer cannot agree on an accommodation or it is deemed by the employer that the accommodation is a hardship, the employer can deny the request for an accommodation.

Keep in mind that if you do deny an employee’s accommodation request, it has to be a legitimate business reason that is deemed an undue hardship on the employer. So what does the ADA consider an undue hardship on the employer? Financial difficulties, reasonable accommodations that are unduly extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or those that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.

If an accommodation is denied, the accommodation should always be heavily documented and recorded with the reason for denial and undue hardship. The accommodation should be thoroughly documented if approved as well. Step number 10, send the employee an accommodation approval or denial letter that documents out the accommodation thoroughly with detail.

Finally step number 11, check in with the employee at a later time and see how the is working so quarterly, yearly

in they’re, and how the is for them. This time should be used to discuss any adjustments that need to be made with the accommodation. In part two of this episode, I will be discussing some examples of accommodations that could be made. Do you have a question for us? Click the link in the show notes. Or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to podcast zene.com.

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