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Performance and Production Standards

Accommodation and Compliance: Performance and Production


Establishing and uniformly applying performance standards allows employers to consistently evaluate employees and readily identify and respond to performance issues. Performance issues can occur for many reasons and can sometimes develop due to disability-related limitations, but this may not be known prior to addressing performance issues. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), under the ADA, employees with disabilities may be held to the same performance/production standards as employees without disabilities in the same job. Employers are not required to disregard, change, or eliminate performance standards as reasonable accommodation.

It’s not always apparent that disability-related limitations are a factor in poor performance. Performance evaluations can lead to disability disclosure when employees recognize a disability-related connection and choose to share information about their limitations, and/or request reasonable accommodation, in response to a poor performance review. In managing employee performance, it can be useful for the employer to clearly state the performance requirements (e.g., attendance policy, production standard, etc.), share what has been observed, explain the consequences of not meeting the required performance standards, and ask the employee what/if anything can be done to support them in meeting the requirements. This creates a safe space for disability disclosure and opens the door to discuss reasonable accommodation, which can play a key role in performance improvement. Reasonable accommodation is meant to enable an employee with a disability to meet the performance standards, not to exempt them from meeting the standards.

The following tips may be useful when addressing performance issues:

  • Establish performance standards, and apply them uniformly and consistently to all employees, including employees with disabilities.
  • Document performance issues early, and always.
  • Inform employees about observed performance issues. Explain the consequences of not meeting performance requirements, establish clear expectations and a timeframe for improvement.
  • Offer support and inform employees that assistance is available to enable them to meet performance standards. Explain how to request this type of assistance. For example, mention something like, “If you believe there is anything we can do to support you in meeting the required performance standards, please let [XYZ person] know.”
  • Recognize when disability disclosure, or a request for reasonable accommodation, is a trigger to engage in the interactive process in response to a poor performance evaluation.
  • Implement reasonable accommodations to improve performance, monitor for effectiveness, and re-evaluate performance with accommodations in place.

Detailed information about applying performance and conduct standards to employees with disabilities can be found in the following Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforcement guidance documents:

For more information on this topic, or any other ADA or accommodation issue, contact JAN.

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