For Handling Employee Disabilities, Take the Burger King Approach

By Eric B. Meyer

ADA and Burger King?!? Has someone been eating too many Whoppers?

Actually, the inspiration for this post comes from Seattle attorney Michael Harrington, who presented The Wild, the Weird and the Wonderful FMLA/ADAAA Cases…And the Lessons for Employers! with me yesterday at the 2015 Employer Compliance Conference in Washington, D.C..

(If you want a copy of our PPT, please email me. I got you.)

Adopt a customer service mindset

During the takeaways from our presentation, I went with the tried-and-true, educate your employees about the procedures for requesting FMLA/ADA accommodations, and train your managers how to spot these requests, especially where the letters FMLA or ADA are not used.

But Mike, who killed it yesterday during our presentation — the Penn to my Teller, the Bart to my Milhouse — made it real simple. He suggested that companies train managers who deal with ADA requests to think about Burger King’s old slogan, “Have it your way.”

In other words, adopt a customer service mindset.

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By asking an employee what the company can do to accommodate a disability, the manager immediately helps promote the goals of the ADA: A good faith interactive dialogue designed to accommodate an employee with a disability to allow that employee to perform the essential functions of the job — unless doing so would create undue hardship for the employer.

So, next time an employee requests an accommodation, extra pickles, hold the tomato, and, “have it your way.”

(Unless there is another reasonable accommodation available or the accommodation would create undue hardship. But, you get the idea).

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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