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EEOC Issues New Guide to Americans with Disabilities Act

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued a new guide to help both employers and employees better understand some complicated issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act: The Americans with Disabilities Act: Applying Performance and Conduct Standards to Employees with Disabilities.

The new guide addresses an issue under the ADA that has given rise to a good deal of litigation-how far can employers go in enforcing their performance and conduct standards against employees who have disabilities that may limit their ability to comply with those standards. The EEOC’s new guide states that employees with a disability must meet the same performance standards that are applicable to all employees in the same job, and that employers need not reduce or relax those standards, even if an employee requests it as a reasonable accommodation. The EEOC also points out that employers may discipline disabled employees for violations of rules of conduct, even where the misconduct is caused by the employee’s disability. However, the EEOC does note that if a reasonable accommodation to an employee’s condition can be made which would allow the employee to meet a performance or conduct standard, then the employer must make such an accommodation.

The new guide addresses a number of other issues, including the application of dress codes to disabled employees and the applicability of the ADA to employees with substance abuse problems,

The new guide is written in a very accessible style, and it contains a number of examples that help illustrate the ADA’s sometimes complicated requirements. It’s worth a read by employers and employees alike.

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