Our team of experts fields real-life, everyday questions from HR managers and gives practical answers that can be applied by any HR pro in the same situation. Today’s issue: Responding to employee requests for turning up — or down — the temperature in the workplace.
We have an employee who frequently complains about the temperature of the office. Could we get in trouble if we don’t adjust the thermostat per her requests?
Welcome to life under the new Americans with Disabilities Act.
If the staffer has a medical issue that makes her sensitive to cold, such as anemia or low blood pressure, you may have to make a reasonable accommodation.
Conversely, some people have conditions where they need to be in cooler temperatures to be comfortable – for instance, menopausal employees.
Bottom line: You may need to keep certain parts of a building at higher or lower temperatures as a reasonable accommodation for people with certain medical conditions.
One note: It’s crucial to prevent employee access to thermostats. With everybody adjusting the temperature to fit their personal preference, you could run into all sorts of problems – and ultimately into an ADA violation.