ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act: Essential Functions and Reasonable Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prescribes guidelines for integrating not only those employees with physical disabilities but also those with psychological and medical needs. Forensic psychiatrists are called upon by human resource professionals to offer opinion on whether individuals can perform the essential functions of their duties; whether they need accommodation for disabilities; what the disabilities are; and what prognosis can be expected.

Applying clinical understanding of the mechanisms of disease to a workplace, The Forensic Panel’s world-class psychiatrists have the sophistication to teach employers and courts how such conditions interfere – or do not – with the essential functions of workplace duties. With an employee’s job on the line, such expert evaluations have enormous ramifications. The forensic psychiatrist must ascertain whether or not a particular employee is legitimately ill, or merely a difficult individual unwilling to function in a company environment.

The ADA provides for “reasonable accommodations” – but what is “reasonable"? Can an employer accommodate at all, and how? The Forensic Panel’s experience in resolving complex forensic questions extends to devising sensible and creative plans for accommodation of disabled employees that include a compassionate accountability. Our clinicians have had the experience of supervising employees for which accommodation may be overly cumbersome to the workplace. As such, the forensic examination conducted by The Forensic Panel benefits from the examiners’ balance of experience as supervisor and caregiver to approach such questions with constructive realism and practicality.

The forensic evaluation for accommodation requires a keen sense of the potential and limitations of medical science to keep someone at the workplace. Peer review of the forensic examination minimizes the biases that can impact the forensic examiner. The accountability provided by The Forensic Panel’s peer review ensures fairness, and controls bias, in a process that affects one person’s livelihood and the integrity of the workplace. Questions such as evaluations under the ADA that have longer-term legal implications benefit enormously from the savvy of The Forensic Panel to bring medical expertise to applying the ADA to real-world challenges.