I f you are a disabled worker, one of the first things you and your employer need to do is engage in what the law calls “the interactive process.” The goal of this statutorily mandated conversation is determining whether the employee can perform the essential functions of their job with or without an accommodation. In other words, can you and your employer figure out a way for you to either keep working, or just keep your job, with your present physical or mental condition. This is an ongoing responsibility, meaning that if your accommodation becomes unworkable, you and your employer need to go back to the drawing board to figure something else out. If an employee is accommodated but subsequently has a change in his or her circumstances, the interactive process must continue.

The interactive process is an ongoing obligation. If circumstances change, you and your employer must continue to assess different accommodations .

As simple as the above sounds, this claim pops up in almost every disability discrimination action. A frequent source of disability claims arise from situations where the employer either simply decides an employee’s fate without their input, or just ignores an employee or their doctor’s input. Sometimes, an overly bureaucratic layer creates mistakes that lead to an inadequate resolution, or outright dismissal of an otherwise qualified employee. All of these situations encompass a failure to engage in the interactive process.


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