Did you know that Michigan’s Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act provides a statutory defense to an employee’s failure to accommodate claims, but ONLY IF you include key language in your Employee Handbook or a posted workplace notice.
Under the Michigan’s Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (Section 210(18)):
A person with a disability may allege a violation against a person regarding a failure to accommodate under this article only if the person with a disability notifies the person in writing of the need for accommodation within 182 days after the date the person with a disability knew or reasonably should have known that an accommodation was needed.
However, for this defense to apply, an employer must “post notices or use other appropriate means to provide all employees and job applicants with notice” of these requirements.
One way that notice can be provided is by including the required language in your Employee Handbook.
In addition, the most recent version of Michigan’s Discrimination Law poster includes a note to employees and applicants with disabilities regarding the 182-day time limit and required writing.
Recommendation for Employers
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights website warns employers “a business that fails to provide adequate notice to its employees [of this legal provision] may waive the ability to use the time limit as a defense.” To avoid such a waiver, it is recommended that all Michigan employers post the most recent version of Michigan’s Discrimination Law poster in their workplace and consider revising their Employee Handbooks to include notice of this provision.
Please be advised, in order to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, an employer is still required to engage in the interactive process with any employee who needs an accommodation, even if the employee did not comply with the required procedure. Adding the recommended language to a policy and/or posting the most recent poster only provides a defense under Michigan’s Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act.