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I attended an event at an attorney’s office in downtown Chicago. I think formally this was titled an Employment Law Update. Like many folks here in the HR space, I do my best to keep up with what’s happening. I read blogs, newsletters, follow tweets, participate in closed Facebook groups, talk to people and attend SHRM events just to name a few. I do all of this in an attempt to keep myself educated and informed on what is going on in our area, and to keep my employer out of harm’s way.
For me there is a comfort in hearing the same content presented many different ways. It also helps bring me to the realization of things that I need to keep in front of me. So by way of example the things that seem to keep coming up so far this year are
- The change to the overtime exemption (FLSA)
- 2017 Changes to the EEO-1 Documents and Salary reporting
- Gender inequities in wages
- Website accessibility for Disabled applicants
- LGBT issues in the workplace ( In particular Trans Gender matters)
Ok so that’s not all but I will call this the top five, and this should be a surprise to no one.
There is one other matter that seems to keep popping up as well. That is the matter of accommodations for those individuals with disabilities, and how we as employers are handling this. Yes, we all know that the AD A has been in place since 1990, and we have been making great strides in accommodating folks in the workplace.
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However, the change that I am hearing and seeing is this. Since its inception, under the ADA those people wanting accommodations we compelled to ask for them. It would appear that the tide is turning on this. Now, HR and the rest of the organization is supposed to read the tea leaves and understand the situation and try to come up with an accommodation even when they are not specifically requested. This is coming to my attention in particular with time off. An employee runs their 12 week entitlement under FMLA and then requests more time. Even though they have not requested any accommodations under ADA, the fact that they have missed so much work is to be your constructive notification that they may disabled and need further time off as a reasonable accommodation. What to do?
At the meeting I attended today, the attorney speaking presented the matter this way, and it is so true. Operations says, they got all the time off they are entitled to, and we need somebody here to do the work. HR says well we may need to give them more time. Operations replies this is #!$%^&* You get it.
The presenter went on to say, that oh and just for conversation sake let’s say this person has cancer. How are you going to get on the right side of letting them go? That is not going to work.
But you know what, we (HR) has to do the right thing, we are to be the moral compass of our organization, even if no one else buys it. So put on your detective hat, figure out this person has a problem. HR needs to help them, even if they haven’t asked for help. It is the right things to.
And even if you don’t think it is the right things to do, you may well get sued later on for having not recognizing the need for an accommodation. Pay now or pay later.
If I am going to have to pay, I would just as soon be on the right side of the matter, than the wrong side of it! Be watching for those clues and signs folks.