Written Warnings and Accommodations

Q: Can we give an employee a written warning for three unrelated concerns at once?

A: Yes, you may issue simultaneous warnings to an employee. For example, if an employee is routinely tardy, underperforming, and insubordinate, you could address these issues in a single meeting. That said, it’s usually more effective to address issues as they arise than to save them for a later conversation.In either case, we recommend documenting the issues and the steps you took to help the employee resolve them. Have the warning in writing so that both you and the employee can sign it, indicating that the meeting took place and the employee is aware of your concerns. This shows a good faith effort on your part, which may be helpful in the event the employee’s conduct doesn’t improve and you decide to terminate employment.

Q: One of our employees has asked for an accommodation. Her desk currently faces a wall, and she has asked to move, claiming that for medical reasons she needs to be able to see at a farther distance whenever she looks up. Is it appropriate to ask for medical documentation before considering her request?

A: If the employee has a disability (a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity), you must consider an accommodation for the employee. At present, however, you do not have enough information to know whether her condition qualifies as a disability. So, yes, a request for medical documentation would be appropriate.Explain to the employee that you are willing to consider the workplace accommodation if her treating physician completes and returns an ADA Medical Inquiry Form. This form substantiates an employee’s impairment and need for accommodation. Tell the employee that having her doctor complete the form is completely optional, but that the company needs a completed form in order to consider a workplace accommodation. We recommend giving the employee at least two weeks to return the form.

If the employee returns the form, the next step would be to discuss with her what reasonable accommodations (such as moving her desk) could be made without putting an undue burden on the company. If you get to this step, just let us know and we’d be happy to give you some tips and strategies for evaluating accommodations.

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