The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a safety net designed to prevent discrimination against individuals who are disabled. The ADA is beneficial, but it’s also quite complex. One reason why it’s critical to have an Employment Practices Liability insurance is that you could, unknowingly, violate ADA guidelines and be sued for discrimination. Here are some interview tips based on ADA guidelines. Follow these tips from the National Center on Workforce and Disability to reduce the likelihood that you’ll ask a question that could be perceived as discriminatory.
Even before you reach the interviewing stage, you could run afoul of ADA requirements. Make sure your employment application form does not include any questions that are off limits. Additionally, make sure that your office and interview rooms meet ADA requirements and are accessible to individuals in wheelchairs or who may have other disabilities.
Don’t Focus on the Disability
If someone enters your office for a job interview and he or she is obviously disabled, you may feel that it’s polite to ask if he or she needs special accommodations. That violates the ADA. Your job is to focus solely on whether or not an applicant is capable of doing the job in question. If a candidate requests accommodations, though, you are required to comply as long as the request is reasonable and would not cause “undue” hardship. That does not mean you can deny requests that involve some cost, though.
Advise Applicants of Any Required Tests – Before they Arrive for The Interview
If you require a written test or a test showing that an applicant can perform a specific function, let applicants know at the time you are scheduling their interview. This way, a disabled applicant who may need special accommodations can request them in advance.
Tailor Your Approach When Addressing Disabled Applicants
If a hearing-impaired applicant arrives for an interview, speak directly to the person and sustain eye contact. Speak only when the applicant is looking at you (he or she may read lips.) If a visually-impaired applicant arrives for an interview, and your interview process involves multiple people, always make sure the speaker identifies himself or herself. Be ready to provide physical assistance – but only when the applicant requests it. If a candidate is in a wheelchair, try to put yourself at his or her level instead of towering above in an elevated chair.
Don’t Lower Your Standards
The ADA exists to level the playing field for disabled people. It does not exist to give the disabled unfair advantages. If a disabled applicant is not qualified for a job, don’t hire him or her simply because of the disability.
Owning a business is a huge responsibility. Even the most diligent and well-intentioned business owners make mistakes. We are all human, after all! You can’t prevent mistakes entirely, but you can make sure they don’t destroy your business by protecting yourself with insurance. Contact us at Newman Crane & Associates Insurance at (407) 859-3691 to make sure you’re well protected.