What is Reasonable Accomodation? Help

My husbands work has decided that he can not come back to work until he is 100%. It is a school district and he’s a janitor. he had the catheter put in a week ago today. They are suddenly giving him problems.

Your husband is protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act and can ask for “reasonable accommodation.” In my experience, reasonable accommodation for someone on PD includes perhaps an extra break, time and a place to do a dialysis exchange during the workday, possibly a place to store the supplies to do that exchange unless the person has a locker, time off to go to a doctor’s or clinic appointment, switching to a less strenuous job if one is available, etc. I always told my patients that it was important to be a good employee so if you could figure out a way to make up time to get your full work week, your employer would have less to complain about. Almost all of my patients were very hard workers who took less time off than “healthy” employees. They made me very proud to know them and became role models for other patients.

How long has your husband worked for the school district? Does he have a good work record there? Are there other janitors there that could help him by doing some of the more strenuous things for a while until he totally recuperates?

What you’re going to need is a statement from the doctor. The school district may have its own form or you could ask the doctor to write a letter to the school district. Before just asking and leaving it at that, realize that some people don’t like their jobs and kidney failure gives them a reason to quit and doctors help them out by filling out disability forms. It doesn’t sound like this is what your husband wants. He will definitely need to make sure his doctor knows that he wants to go back to work as soon as possible. However, both you and your husband need to ask what limitations he does have, if any, and for how long. No one wants him to risk his health by having him go back to work too soon. You’d like for him to go back to work and keep his job rather than go back to work and lose the job because he just can’t do it.

The form or letter to the school district needs to describe what he will need to do related to his treatment. If he needs to miss work for dialysis clinics, how often and how much time? If he needs to do a PD exchange during the day, can he do it during his lunchtime? Be sure the doctor knows that he wants to return to work and that he understands what your husband’s job requires so he can address those activities – bending, stooping, walking, climbing, reaching, lifting, sweeping, mopping, etc.

I used to write these kinds of letters for the doctors to sign and I always included a statement about the Americans with Disabilities Act protection so the employer knew that this employee would not give up easily. I made the letter pretty general about PD (or hemodialysis) focusing on what someone could do. I included the accommodations that the patient told me he/she needed. I asked the patient to read the letter before the doctor signed it to be sure it was the way he/she wanted it. I never had anyone ask to have anything changed. You might want to ask the doctor if you and your husband can review the form or letter before he/she sends it. By the way, all the patients for whom I wrote letters that their doctor signed kept their jobs…even those that were really at risk and may not have been the best workers. Some of the really good workers even got promotions.