Is mentioning a disorder, a request for accommodation?

Our employee of about six months is in a job that requires that his hours occur mostly during our business hours, 9 - 5. It's an IT job but one that requires he interact with others in IT, and they are all here during business hours..

Not too long after he started he fell into arriving way late (after lunch) and working 8 hours from then. He also had an instance where he did not show up for work and did not call in. When he did show up, his supervisor met with him to inform him that was unacceptable. He mentioned that he had a diagnosed sleep disorder (I have found references to it on medical websites) in which he doesn't fall asleep until early morning and therefore has trouble waking up to get here by 9 or 10.

He has recently repeated his "not showing up" behavior and his supervisor is now ready to give him a written warning. I have told her to proceed with the process but need some advice on how to proceed in a possible ADA situation. What is our responsibility here? Do we need him to make a specific request (he may not know he can) or can we (and should we) lead him in this direction? I assume we need to do this now that we "know" he has a disorder, and that we need to follow a process for documenting the disorder via his physician, and considering the request.


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  • You are right. You have been informed and must start the interactive process.

    You mentioned that part of his job is interacting with other IT people. Is it really an essential part of his duties? Will it not be accomodated if he can come in at noon?

    Even if you end up changing his hours to accomodate, I believe he still has to come in on time. That is, as long as you change his start time to noon, then 12:15 is late and you can discipline him for it. Perhaps someone else can chime in as to that part.
  • thanks Nae. good question about accommodating a twelve noon start time. I will check with the manager. another question; have you ever seen an employee decline to get medical certification of their condition? (that's not his position, I'm just curious as to what happenes there). does one just back off if gentle persuasion does not cause the EE to reverse his/her position?
  • It depends on the facts. If I had an employee who was not meeting their job expectations, claimed it was due to a health reason, but then refused to give me documentation I would probably move forward with disciplinary action. I would make it clear that if they provided documentation the action would cease, or at the least, de-escalate.

    If the illness is obvious though, I would probably get my attorney involved. It is one thing for someone to claim they have a bad back or a sleeping disorder, and quite another if they are limping or turning blue before my eyes. Most cases are somewhere in between. That's where your knowledge and discretion comes into play. That's why they pay us the big bucks. (By big bucks I mean anything over $5 an hours. :) )
  • Well, a new development. The employee in question just gave his notice. He is leaving to move to a job where his hours are flexible. It is not the same position, but one there is less interaction with other employees as part of his responsibilities. As I said on another forum, it probably is the best resolution for all of us. On the other hand, I hope I don't wind up in one of those "Can you believe they did that!" stories we read about in our Employment Law newsletters.
  • It's quite possible he was already doing work for them in addition to working for you.
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