The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released an updated technical assistance document detailing how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers job applicants and employees with visual disabilities.The technical assistance explains when an employer may permissibly ask about an applicant or employee’s vision and when such inquiries would violate the ADA. The guidance includes examples of questions an employer cannot ask an applicant, such as:

An employer may ask questions pertaining to the applicant’s ability to perform job functions, with or without reasonable accommodation, such as:

The guidance also provides examples of when an employer can make vision-related inquiries when there is a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that the employee’s ability to perform essential job functions is impaired by a visual disability:

Example: Abdul, a data entry clerk, has recently started making numerous errors when entering information into the employer’s database. For example, he seems to be confusing the numbers 1, 7 and 9. Abdul’s supervisor also has recently begun to see Abdul rubbing his eyes frequently and looking more closely at both his computer screen and printed materials. Based on these observations, the employer has a reasonable belief based on objective evidence that Abdul’s performance problems are related to an eye condition and, therefore, may ask for medical information.

The guidance also discusses the reasonable accommodations that are available for employees with vision issues, including new technologies, many of which are free or low-cost. These include:

In line with other recent guidance from the EEOC and the U.S. Department of Justice warning of the improper use of artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms in making employment decisions, the guidance describes how the use of AI can impact individuals with visual disabilities.The document also addresses how an employer should handle safety concerns about applicants and employees with visual disabilities and how an employer can ensure that no employee is harassed because of a visual disability.

Source: Phelps Dunbar LLP – Mark Fijman

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: