Accommodating workplace injuries

(Psyc INFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved) Chirikos, T. Much depends on the extent to which health and economic factors thought to raise or lower the costs of accommodation to employers actually predict accommodation outcomes.

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The career progression recorded for each caller reflects how the accommodation was used to place or retain the caller in employment.

Overall, JAN data show that workers with spinal cord injury can be gainfully employed and maintain this employment over time.

Finally, you ask whether an employer may create light duty positions for employees with work-related injuries, but not for employees with disabilities that are not cause by work-related injuries.

Since failing to provide such an accommodation would violate the ADA, the issue of adverse impact need not be addressed.

Two hundred thirty-one accommodations at the worksite were identified for these individuals, for an average of 5.1 accommodations per job.

The most frequently identified accommodation was Orientation and Training of Supervisors to provide necessary assistance (38.1%), followed by Modifications of the Non-physical Work Environment (16.4%); and Modifications of Work Hours and Schedules (15.69).

Results indicate that nearly three-quarters of the callers needed an accommodation in order to maintain their current job or to improve their productivity in their current job.

Only 1% of the callers were being considered for promotion. "Reasonable accommodations for workers with serious mental illness: Type, frequency, and associated outcomes." Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal, 17(2): 163-172.

The guidance further notes that an employer cannot establish undue hardship simply by showing that it would have no other vacant light duty positions available if an employee became injured on the job and needed light duty. Thus, contrary to the interpretation of the Guidance advanced in your letter, an employer that provides light duty positions of indefinite duration with regular pay to employees with disabilities caused by work-related injuries must also do so for employees with non-work-related disabilities if needed as a reasonable accommodation.

Discrimination is prohibited with respect to all terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Question 28 of the Commission's (September 3, 1996) ("Guidance"), addresses this issue as follows: If an employee with a disability who is not occupationally injured becomes unable to perform the essential functions of his/her job, and there is no other effective accommodation available, the employer must reassign him/her to a vacant reserved light duty position as a reasonable accommodation if (1) s/he can perform its essential functions, with or without a reasonable accommodation; and (2) the reassignment would not impose an undue hardship.

You next ask whether providing light duty positions of indefinite duration with regular pay to employees with work-related injuries who have reached maximum medical improvement, while not providing the same for employees with disabilities not caused by work-related injury would violate the ADA.

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