I find that even when I try to turn off my brain, HR still seems to creep in. I was watching TV last Friday, and enjoying a great show, Blue Bloods, when the episode turned to the topic of disabilities in the workplace. A detective became disabled and was in a wheelchair. The Police Commissioner initially couldn’t fathom how the detective could continue. Staff members brought up “reasonable accommodation and the laws around ADA and ADAAA.” The PC continued to not see any possibility for the woman to continue as a detective. As it so happened, a situation ensued where the detective was able to be involved in the capture of a criminal. Because the detective was able to prove herself, the PC decided to add a third detective for fieldwork as the reasonable accommodation and the woman was
able to continue as a detective.
How often are we limiting our vision of jobs and job responsibility in regard to people that have disabilities or become disabled? It’s hard to see jobs done differently. We also are concerned with safety risks. The ADA/ADAAA really forces us to think differently about essential functions and what is “reasonable” in order to accommodate disability in the workplace. We must change our mindset and get our heads out of the box. We can do this but it takes effort. HR can help by offering creative possibilities and “pushing” the issues with management. Organizations could tap into a great potential
workforce that is underutilized.
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