Accommodating Interviews for Disabled Applicants

Do you know someone who is going through the interview process that may be hard of hearing?  Perhaps they are having difficulty getting interviews because the employer requires a digital interview and they have concerns that they will not be able to hear it.  Digital interviews are increasingly common, and are one example of how applicants with disabilities may be at a disadvantage or need accommodation when seeking employment.

Employers are not in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, by using a digital interview process.  However, they are required to make the hiring processes accessible to applicants according to their disability.  That means the applicant would have to request that the employer provide a reasonable accommodation in order to complete the digital interview or provide some other method for conducting an interview that will work around an applicant’s disability.

An applicant that needs a reasonable accommodation to proceed with a digital interview must request said accommodations or a different interview method.  If a company refuses to provide reasonable accommodations, then the company would violate the ADA, unless they can provide reason for said denial, such as hardship.  The accommodations must be provided in a timely manner or the delay itself may be considered a violation of the ADA, especially if the delay causes the applicant to lose the opportunity to be considered for the position.

The applicant must clearly state that they are requesting reasonable accommodations for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act with respect to the interview process.  The communication must be clear to the employer.   They are the ones that are going to provide said accommodation or other method for a digital interview – they need to know.  We recommend making the request for accommodation in an email when possible, because then there is a written record of the request being made.  You should also follow up to confirm receipt if you do not get a quick response.

An employer is NOT required to hire a disabled applicant who is not the most qualified for the job, but they do have to give them fair consideration.  Denying someone the opportunity to interview denies them that fair consideration, and is thus a violation of the ADA.  Bear in mind, however, that making accommodations so you can interview does not mean that the employer has an obligation to hire you over any other applicant with or without a disability.

You should also remember that employers are not required to make accommodations for things that are not disabilities.  Short-term conditions, such as a broken bone or a temporary illness, are not disabilities.  If you cannot interview because you have the flu, there is no obligation to reschedule the interview to accommodate your temporary condition.  Employers also do not have to accommodate preference or other non-disability requests.  For example, if you are unfamiliar with or uncomfortable with the technology used for a digital interview, an employer does not have to accommodate this preference.  Finally, you should also remember that even if you have a disability under the ADA and are entitled to an accommodation, the employer does not have to provide you with the exact accommodation you request.  In the example we gave, if someone is hard of hearing and requests an accommodation for a digital interview by having the interview in person, the employer could instead come up with an accommodation such as using talk-to-type software.

If you, or someone you know, is in a situation where they believe they were not hired for any type of disability, give Gold Star Law a call today.  We’ll help get the answers you need.