The ADA and Extending Courtesy

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines ways in which businesses must better accommodate disabled employees and customers and provides legal guidance on how this can be accomplished. Accommodation should not end at compliance however. An attitude of welcome and respect for those with disabilities is a necessity as well.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission notes that an employer must comply and provide reasonable accommodations. Most notably this includes the blanket statement that “the workplace [must be] readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.” With both EEO and ADA in mind, certain jobs may not be performed by people with specific physical disabilities but a business that provides a public service must provide accessibility for their guests. Such businesses include restaurants and bars, grocery stores, museums and galleries, zoos, gymnasiums and spas, and so on.

In a piece featured in HR Communication, Communications Solutions identifies a number of ways in which an employer and his or her employees can go above and beyond just compliance. One of the central topics in the post is to encourage courteousness between employees and their guests.

A key point identifies that education is essential within the workforce to encourage courtesy while interacting with those with disabilities. Employees should be reminded to not “ignore disabled people while speaking to their companions as if they weren’t there” and to not “assume a disabled person needs … help.”

Many employers find that in exploring accommodations they are more able to clearly define absolute necessities for performance as opposed to elements of a job description that are not essential. This also helps employers hone in on additional methods for supporting their employees. A genuine exploration of what’s possible in accommodations will not only aid in the retention of top talent but potentially enhance the relationship between both employee and employer.

For more information on human resource consulting or employer programs, contact Xenium HR at 503-612-1555 or visit The staff at Xenium HR contributed to this article. It is intended as information only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Xenium HR is a professional employer organization specializing in strategic HR partnership with small and mid-sized businesses in Portland, Oregon.

Mathew Simonton