Need advice--next steps on potential disability accommodation

I was approached by a manager a few weeks ago who explained problems she
was having with an employee's work. Employee makes incorrect entries
into a database. When these are pointed out, she goes back and corrects
them, but doesn't seem to take in the overall problem and figure out
how not to make mistakes the first time. Manager finds she has to have
someone proof employee's work. This and other work problems have her
considering a performance improvement plan.

Employee just emailed me to say she was having problems with the manager. She has mentioned several times that she has
dyslexia, and the manager doesn't seem to get it, explains things to
her "in a condescending way." Manager has asked her what she can do to
improve the work environment.

I believe these two interactions put us on a course of identifying employee's disability
and getting her to articulate what she needs to get her job done, but
I'm not sure what my next steps should be. Actually, I've already taken
one step... asking her to think about what she would request that would
help her get her job done, but then what? Do I take it to her
supervisor as a request for accommodation? Do I need to request a
medical diagnosis first?

Thanks in advance for your advice.


  • 5 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Can anyone help me here?  Thanks.
  • The interactive process has absolutely been triggered.  You need to ask yourself a few questions.

    Can the employee perform the essential functions of her job?  If not, is there a change to the job that would allow the employee to do all the ESSENTIAL functions of her job?  If yes and the company feels it does not create an undue hardship then you work to implement the changes.

    This needs to be worked through with the HR department and not the manager.  Of course the manager needs to be kept in the loop for any accommodations, but that is about it.

    At this point I would not implement any disiplinary action against the employee.  If she had previous issues that were not addressed you can't go back and ding her for them now.  If you did it would be a good set up for a retaliation claim.  Going forward if an accommodation is made and she still has errors/mistakes then you need to approach it in a delicate manner, but remember that a disability is not an OK for poor performance.  Document document document.  If the employee continues to have the same issues, start the paper trail with a progressive disciplinary action and make sure that there is no other accommodation that the employee feels would enable her to do her job correctly. If there is no further accommodation that would help her and she is still performing poorly, follow standard disciplinary procedures. 

    The manager should be coached on her tone and interactions with an employee who is claiming a disability (and overall).  Generally, Managers should be aware enough to know that the ADA interactive process has been triggered and move the situation to HR.  

     This is simply my opinion.  Not knowing all the details. There is no question the interactive process has been triggered though so tread carefully.



  • thank you, this is helpful.


    p.s.  I  just met another set of managers about an employee who has disclosed bipolar disorder.  Goodness, is there something in the air here?   I hope the adage about things coming in threes isn't correct.....

  • Glad it was helpful.  I certainly hope they don't come in threes!


  • Take a look at - JAN is the job accommodation network.  If you don't find anything there, the employee or her medical provider may have some ideas.  Dyslexia is a visual phenomenon.  Perhaps software that reads the documents to her (if that's where the problem crops up) or that repeats what she's typed back to her (if that's where the problem crops up) could be all you need.  She can wear a headset to keep the sound from bothering others.
Sign In or Register to comment.