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Supervisory Methods

Supervisors have their own ways of communicating and interacting with employees. For example, some are very hands-on and work directly with employees while other may prefer to take a hands-off approach and communicate only when necessary. When a supervisor’s methods don’t work well for an employee with a disability because of the employee’s limitations, the supervisor may need to modify those methods. The following information is from a publication by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Enforcement Guidance on the ADA and Psychiatric Disabilities. See question 26.

Is adjusting supervisory methods a form of reasonable accommodation?

Yes.  Supervisors play a central role in achieving effective reasonable accommodations for their employees.  In some circumstances, supervisors may be able to adjust their methods as a reasonable accommodation by, for example, communicating assignments, instructions, or training by the medium that is most effective for a particular individual (e.g., in writing, in conversation, or by electronic mail).  Supervisors also may provide or arrange additional training or modified training materials.

Adjusting the level of supervision or structure sometimes may enable an otherwise qualified individual with a disability to perform essential job functions.  For example, an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who experiences limitations in concentration may request more detailed day-to-day guidance, feedback, or structure in order to perform his job.

For additional information, see: Changing a Supervisor as an Accommodation under the ADA.