The employee initiates the process.
In most circumstances, the employee must request an accommodation. The employee does not have to use the term "reasonable accommodation" or mention the ADA. The request might be a request from the employee like: "I need six weeks off for a back problem." It might come in the form of a doctors' note stating: "Johnny needs to be transferred to a less stressful position because of illness and past inability to work."
Meet with the employee.
In order to accommodate an employee, you must know the nature and extent of the employee's issue. As a result, it is absolutely necessary to talk to the employee. You may also need to get more information from the employee's doctor. If so, you should get a medical release. You might also consider sending the doctor a list of questions regarding the employee's condition. An employee who fails to supply a medical release or otherwise fails to cooperate will be unable to maintain a claim under the ADA for failure to accommodate.
Discuss the options.
You should develop a list of possible actions to address the employee's situation. In this regard, make sure to consider the employee's suggestions.
Select and offer the most appropriate accommodation.
It is important to note that you get to select the accommodation. It need not be the "best" but it must be effective. You can base your selection on the cost of the accommodation.
Document the solution.
It is important to document the entire accommodation process. A memorandum should be prepared describing what was offered and what was accepted or rejected by the employee. Of course, you should request the employee's signature on the memo.
Keep it confidential.
The ADA places restrictions on the sharing of an employee's medical information with others. The reasonable accommodation should only be disclosed on a "need to know" basis. Co-workers should not generally be informed of the arrangement. The EEOC suggests the following response to inquiring co-workers: "federal law requires changes we made, but prohibits further disclosure."