To help develop effective accommodations for the hiring process, employers can use a similar approach to the one they use for employee accommodation requests. However, for a variety of reasons, employers should aim to minimize the amount of confidential medical information received about applicants and candidates. The following flowchart provides ideas for streamlining each step of the accommodation process:
Step One: Accommodation Request
When you receive an accommodation request from an applicant or candidate with a medical condition, the first thing to do is determine whether you will grant the request without medical information or documentation.
Ask yourself: (a) is the disability and need for accommodation obvious; or (b) has the applicant/candidate already provided sufficient information to substantiate that they have an ADA disability and need the requested accommodation?
- If yes, proceed to step three.
- If no, is the request something you are willing to grant without medical information or documentation (e.g., easy to provide, will not affect your ability to assess the applicant/candidate, will not give the applicant/candidate an unfair advantage if they don’t have a disability)?
- If yes, proceed to step three.
- If no, proceed to step two.
Step Two: Gathering Information
The next step is to determine whether it is necessary to request medical documentation showing that the applicant/candidate has a disability and needs the requested accommodation.
Would it be sufficient to have an informal conversation with the applicant/candidate in lieu of medical documentation?
If yes, ask the applicant/candidate about the limitations and why the accommodation is needed. Do not ask for more information than necessary for you to confirm that the applicant/candidate has a disability for which they need the requested accommodation. Then proceed to step three.
If no, consider asking the appropriate professional (which will depend on the disability and may include, among others, a doctor, psychologist, nurse, licensed mental health professional, or physical, occupational, or speech therapist) to just confirm that the applicant/candidate needs the requested accommodation because of a disability then proceed to step three. See: Sample Medical Inquiry Form in Response to an Accommodation Request for the Hiring Process
Step Three: Exploring Accommodation Options
Under the ADA, employers can explore alternative accommodation options.
Do you want to explore alternative accommodations?
If no, proceed to step five.
If yes, the first step is to understand why the accommodation is being requested if this information was not already gathered in step 2. What is the applicant/candidate’s limitation that led to the request? Once you have this information, other effective options may be obvious, or it may be obvious that the preferred accommodation is the only effective option. If neither is obvious, you and the applicant/candidate can brainstorm ideas or contact JAN for ideas. Once you have a list of effective options, proceed to step four.
Step Four: Choosing the Accommodation
When possible, a best practice is to choose the employee’s preferred accommodation, but under the ADA you can opt for any effective option.
Are you going to choose the applicant/candidate’s preferred accommodation?
If yes, move to step five.
If no, contact the applicant/candidate to discuss the alternative option you chose to make sure it’s effective before moving to step five.
Step Five: Implementing the Accommodation
Under the ADA, employers must take whatever steps are necessary to implement the accommodation, except when doing so would cause an “undue hardship.”
If the accommodation involves a service such as a sign language interpreter, do you know where to acquire the service?
If yes, acquire the service and move to step six.
If no, contact the applicant/candidate to find out whether they know where to acquire appropriate services or contact JAN for referral.
If the accommodation involves equipment, do you know where to acquire the equipment?
If yes, acquire and install the equipment and move to step six.
If no, contact the applicant/candidate to find out whether they know where to acquire the equipment. If they don’t, contact your state assistive technology project or contact JAN for referral.
Do recruiters, hiring managers, or interviewers need any information about an accommodation that has been granted for the hiring process?
If yes, notify the appropriate person but limit the information you share to only what is necessary. See: Confidentiality of Medical Information under the ADA
If no, do not share any information about the accommodation or disability.
Step 6: Monitoring the Accommodation
In most cases, during the hiring process it will be up to recruiters, hiring managers, or interviewers to monitor accommodations during pre-placement assessments, testing, and job interviews.
Do recruiters, hiring managers, or interviewers need training about what to do if an accommodation is not effective, a new request is made, or something changes that affects the accommodation?
If yes, provide the training but also make sure recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers know who to contact if something happens that they have not been trained how to handle.
If no, make sure recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers know who to contact if something happens that they have not been trained how to handle.