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What Not to Do When Hiring Someone with Disabilities

By May 7, 2024Tips

Hiring employees with developmental disabilities may strengthen your competitive edge in finding talented workers. In addition to qualifying for tax credits, your business may benefit from the message of goodwill and inclusivity it conveys about your company’s culture. 

Many candidates with disabilities are quite capable of handling the tasks associated with a job. However, because developmental disabilities are often marked by behavioral or physical impairments that affect day-to-day functioning, you will want to approach the interview process with special considerations in mind. 

In a previous article, we talked about how to conduct a successful interview with a candidate who appears to have a disability. Here are some pointers for what NOT to do during the interview: 

  • Do not ask the candidate about their disability or ask prodding questions. Even if related to the job, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits all disability-related questions prior to an offer of employment. 
  • If the candidate has an obvious disability or discloses a disability during the interview, don’t make it the focus of your discussion. Focus instead on the person and his or her abilities. Ask questions that are specific to the job, including about technical and professional knowledge, skills, and previous employment history. 
  • Don’t let nervousness or fear of making a faux pas affect your ability to connect with the candidate. Try to create a relaxed atmosphere and help the applicant feel at ease by getting to know them as an individual, including their abilities, experiences, and interests. 
  • Don’t treat the candidate any differently than you would nondisabled applicants. Avoid making assumptions about how he or she would be able to perform the job. Acknowledge that they have mastered their own ways of living and working. 
  • Do not pet or distract any service animals who accompany the candidate to the interview. 

After an applicant is hired and begins work, an employer may legally make disability-related inquiries and require medical examinations if they are related to the job and there’s a business necessity. A complex issue for employers is defining reasonable accommodation. The ADA requires employers to engage in an interactive process to, “identify the precise limitations resulting from a disability and potential reasonable accommodations that could overcome those limitations.” 

MarathonHR is happy to share our knowledge of human resources administration best practices, including ADA compliance and offering reasonable accommodation to new hires with disabilities. Please call us at 678.208.2802 for a consultation. 

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