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JAN Newsletter - March 2024

Timely Information and Resources

March 2024 Newsletter

Featuring JAN's Accommodation and Compliance Series: Intellectual or Cognitive Disability

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Ask JAN!

Are there situations in which an employer must ask an employee whether an accommodation is needed?

Under the ADA, it is generally the employee's duty to inform their employer that an accommodation will be needed to perform essential job functions. However, an employer has an obligation to initiate a discussion about the need for a reasonable accommodation if the employer:

  • Knows that the employee has a disability,
  • Knows, or has reason to know, that the employee is experiencing workplace difficulties because of the disability, and
  • Knows, or has reason to know, that the disability prevents the employee from requesting a reasonable accommodation.

NOTE: Federal contractors have a greater duty to ask if an employee needs an accommodation under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. The following is from Section 503 regulations:

As a matter of affirmative action, if an employee with a known disability is having significant difficulty performing his or her job and it is reasonable to conclude that the performance problem may be related to the known disability, the contractor shall confidentially notify the employee of the performance problem and inquire whether the problem is related to the employee's disability. If the employee responds affirmatively, the contractor shall confidentially inquire whether the employee is in need of a reasonable accommodation.

Consultants' Corner

JAN is often asked about whether a support person would be an appropriate accommodation. A support person can sometimes be an effective accommodation option under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that an employer may need to consider when reasonable. For example, when an employee who has cognitive limitations (such as thinking, remembering, and concentrating) must attend a meeting with an employer, a support person may be able to help the employee focus on the purpose of the meeting, follow dialogue, keep track of the concerns to be addressed, and take notes. Although the employer ultimately chooses or approves the support person, it must be someone who can effectively provide support. 

The following examples from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission show other ways a support person might be helpful:

Example: A person with an obvious intellectual disability wants to apply for a job in a large retail store. The store manager gives him the application forms. The applicant tells the manager that he needs someone to assist him with the application. This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.

Example: The mother of a clerk with Down Syndrome calls the clerk's supervisor to tell him that she wants to schedule a meeting to discuss problems that her son is having with his job and some possible solutions. This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.

For more information, read: A Support Person as an Accommodation and Job Coaches and Support People for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.


Long COVID Awareness Day Observed
International Long COVID Awareness Day was observed on March 15th. While symptoms of Long COVID vary from person to person, they can be severe enough to affect an individual’s ability to work. “Supporting Employees with Long COVID: A Guide for Employers” addresses the basics about Long COVID, including its intersection with mental health. This guide outlines temporary and long-term workplace supports that can help businesses of all sizes support and retain employees with Long COVID. It also provides answers to frequently asked questions about Long COVID and employment, including related to telework and leave.
Quick Dive Webinars Available for Supporting Employees with Long COVID
Employees with Long COVID commonly report cognitive impairment and fatigue as symptoms for which accommodations may be needed in the workplace. The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) and the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) collaborated on a series of quick dive webinars to offer practical tips and resources to support the accommodation efforts of employers around Long COVID symptoms. JAN and DMEC representatives walk through overall workplace considerations and share accommodation process tips and resources for supporting employees with Long COVID who have cognitive impairment and fatigue-related accommodation needs.
"Good Jobs" Success Story: How a Disabled South Carolina Worker Earned Financial Independence
A few years ago, Larry Phillips began working with a vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor in Berkeley County, S.C. Larry, who uses a manual wheelchair, wanted to become financially self-sufficient and transition fully away from disability benefits. Hailing from a family of welders, he said he, too, wished to make a career of welding. His VR counselors agreed this had never been done before, and so, Larry should be the first. With collaboration among students, instructors and employers, Larry's counselors helped him complete nearly 300 hours of training, secure competitive integrated employment and achieve his long-held goals. Read Larry's blog on the National Center on Leadership for the Employment and Economic Advancement of People with Disabilities (LEAD Center) webpage.
Coming Soon! A National Online Dialogue to Advance Disability Inclusion in Very Small Businesses
Did you know that more than 90% of businesses in the United States have fewer than 50 employees and approximately 1.8 million people with disabilities are small business owners? Very small businesses employ millions of Americans and often play an essential economic role in their communities. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy invites you to participate in the “Advancing Disability Inclusion in Very Small Businesses” national online dialogue. By submitting ideas and insights on current policies and disability-inclusive practices, you can help inform the development of resources, tools, and actions to address the needs of very small businesses that employ disabled workers or are owned by a disabled person. Get started by visiting the dialogue at today. Simply log in, register, and submit your ideas, or comment and vote on ideas submitted by others.
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