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Employment Blog

ADA Protections in the Application Process

Authored by Dean R. Dietrich
Posted on January 11, 2016
Filed under Employment

A recent lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a reminder that employers have a duty to accommodate an applicant for employment if the applicant identifies the need for accommodations during the application/interview process.  The EEOC recently sued McDonalds Corporation for its alleged refusal to interview a deaf job applicant.  The applicant indicated that he needed a sign language interpreter for his job interview and the company allegedly decided not to interview the candidate because of that request.  The EEOC is now pursuing a claim of disability discrimination against McDonalds Corporation.

This case is a good reminder that employers do have an obligation to make accommodations to applicants for employment who may suffer from a disability.  The request for an accommodation must be reasonable and must be designed to ensure that the applicant will have an equal opportunity to participate in the application process and be considered for a job.  The employer has the right to consider whether an accommodation that would be required for the employee to perform the work would constitute an undue hardship to the company, but that analysis only occurs after the applicant has been interviewed and has been given a reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process.

It is often best practice for an employer to allow for the requested accommodation so the applicant is given appropriate consideration like all other applicants.  A decision may be made in the final applicant review process that the type of accommodation needed by the applicant would be an undue hardship to the company but the initial opportunity to interview for the position should be granted.  Employers may also assess whether the applicant is able to perform the essential functions of the position being applied for but again, that analysis should occur after completion of the interview process.