Over 50% of ADA claims where employers are playing fines and penalties for doing something wrong, originate in work-related injuries. Hello, my name is Michael stack. I’m the CEO of AMAX. And today I want to talk about demystifying the ADA, the Americans with disabilities act and some key definitions and concepts that you need to understand in order to be successful in this, not only to accommodate and run this law, this federal law, and just treat people appropriately, but to stay out of the doghouse for the EOC, the equal employment opportunity commission.
3 Essential ADA Concepts
So I’d go through these three definitions of three essential concepts, and then I’m going to give you the magic ingredient and the magic ingredient to understand to help you conceptualize this ADA. So let’s run through these and let’s run through these relatively quickly. I want to give you three things.
The first thing I’m going to talk about is reasonable accommodation, reasonable accommodation, and what that means all this means. If you think about this, I’m going to break these down. As simple as possible is just a change in the way things are done. Change. All it is is a change in the way things are done. You’re just doing something differently than you typically do it. And a lot of times I like to think about this as if the employer saying, Oh, can we accommodate this way? Oh yeah, sure. We could do that. Sure. That’s something we can do. And I’ll tell you where a lot of employers get tripped up on here though, is that it’s generally more than you think is considered reasonable in the eyes of the EOC. Generally more than you think is considered reasonable in the eyes of the EOC. And that depends on the size of the employer and the resources available. So change in the way things are done.
The next thing that I want to talk about here is the interactive process interactive process. Now this one to me seems the most overwhelming the interactive interactive process. What the heck does that mean? Do I have to call my lawyer to do this? Do I need like a 30 page dissertation of instructions and how this interactive process is exactly supposed to go so that I don’t get in trouble and they do things exactly. Right. And what I see most often happening is this seems so overwhelming that the employers just don’t do it. And when you don’t do it, then you’re not treating the employees. Right? And then you’re also getting in trouble with the EOC because you’re not doing things appropriately. And I want to make this really, really simple for you.
All this is is a conversation. It’s a conversation. It’s a conversation with your injured worker, with your employee to talk about, Hey John, you know, how can we change your job to accommodate your injury, to have you be successful in this work to get to this magic agreement, which I’m going to tell you about, Hey John, how can we change your job to have you be able to do it appropriately?
All it is is a conversation. You don’t need a 30 page dissertation. You don’t need to talk to your lawyer, just have this discussion with your injured worker. And you’re in the interactive part. That’s what it’s all about. Really, really simple.
Last one is the essential functions, essential functions. Again, this is another one that really can get, I think, overwhelming. And it gets to the point where you hear these words, interactive process, reasonable combinations, essential functions. Oh my gosh, I don’t understand it. So I’m just not going to do it. All. This means in the essential functions is what the person was hired to do what they are hired to do. Okay. You’re you were hired to be a forklift driver. Your essential function is you need to be able to drive a forklift. That’s pretty essential to getting this job done, but being able, maybe to lift boxes is not essential.
If you can understand that your job is to drive the forklift, being able to maybe lift boxes is not essential. Maybe something that you do during the day, but it’s not an essential part of that job as far as what this person was hired to do. And you can change that job to have someone else maybe lift those boxes for you while you’re recovering. You’re still able to get what you were hired to do done, but it’s just changed in some way. And you had this conversation with John to learn that based on these discussions, real simple understanding of some of these key terms can demystify and thereby have you engage in this process, engage in this ADA process. That’s the biggest problem a lot of employers had. And I’m going to give you this magic ingredient here, which will also now hopefully start to demystify it and have you start to engage in this process.
The Magic Ingredient
Here’s the magic ingredient is the output of the employee is still at a hundred percent. So the output of that employee is still at a hundred percent. And here’s what I mean by that. And worker’s compensation. A lot of times we think of light duty or transitional duty as someone doing maybe 50%, 60%, 75% of their job. They’re not outputting what they were hired to do at a hundred percent in the trench additional duty type capacity in an ADA format. As far as what the federal law dictates for employers to follow, to treat employees with care, to give them the same respect and appreciation as someone who doesn’t, isn’t considered to have a disability, but their output has to be a hundred percent. So if you’re someone over here, who’s recovering from an, uh, who’s recovering from a work-related injury. They’re considered an injured worker and here’s just a worker they’re not injured.
Their output needs to be exactly the same in the eyes of the ADA, for what they were hired to do for what they were hired to do. So you can change the job, but you are designed, you were hired to be a forklift driver. We can accommodate you. We can make this change through a conversation that we learned that you can do, and you could still drive the forklift. But if you can’t drive the forklifts still, you can’t do that essential functions. And there’s no way that the law is going to force you to do less than a hundred percent in this ADA capacity, really big, important concept to understand and conceptualize what this output at a hundred percent means. Maybe watch this video a couple of times, if it’s not clicking with you, now think about it, pause it for a second, figure out what that means.
Understand the Basic Terms and Engage in the ADA Process
If you can understand this, if you can understand all these basic terms, you’re making the change or having a conversation, and it’s what this person was hired to do. Now you can start to really engage in this process. And when you engage them in this process, you’re going to avoid trouble the majority of the time, because you’re working through it because you’re having this conversation because you’re willing and open to making some of these changes. But your expectation in the eyes of the ADA is that your output is still at a hundred percent. And a lot of this overlays with return to work, the biggest difference is that in, in return to work, your output is generally expected to be less in the transitional duty capacity, but in the eyes of the ADA, it’s not, Hey, my name is Michael stack. I’m the CEO of Amaxx. And remember your work today in workers’ compensation can have a dramatic impact on your life company’s bottom line, but it will have a dramatic impact on someone’s life. So be great.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center, which offers the Certified Master of Workers’ Compensation national designation.
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