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ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act

Shirley Hoffman was a whiz at her indexing job at Caterpillar Inc. She moved faster than almost anyone, even though she was born without a left arm below the elbow. Several accomodations, including rearranging some items in her work space, allowed her to do the job. But when Hoffman asked to be trained on the department's high-speed scanner, her supervisor declined. He didn't think Hoffman could possible perform that key position fast enough to meet production demands, particularly because the operator frequently needs to clear paper jams. Hoffman sued under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), claiming that she was denied training. As human resource manager, if the supervisor had consulted you about what to do in this case, what would you have recommended?

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If the supervisor had consulted me as the Human Resource Manager prior to denying Ms. Hoffman's training request, I would have recommended that she be allowed to participate in training. In order to ensure compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must ensure qualified employment applicants and employees are provided equal opportunity to perform a job. "Qualified" is defined as one's ability to perform the essential functions of a job; with or without reasonable accommodation. Ms. Hoffman had a history of being faster than nearly anyone within her ...

Solution Summary

When an employee is performing a job with accommodation due to a disability, the employer should be cautious in making decisions about other tasks the person is able or not able to perform based on "past practice" assumptions. In this case study, the scenario is an employee is efficiently performing her current task with accommodation for a disability. She seeks training for a new job duty and is rejected. The solution provides a recommendation on how to address this scenario in about 350 words and includes a reference.