Reasonable Accommodations 

Reasonable Accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) .

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and transportation.

Reasonable Accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and transportation. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees.

Reasonable Accommodations Defined:

A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable an applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions.

Under the ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. Qualified employees are those who hold the necessary degrees, skills, and experience for the job; and who can perform its essential functions, with or without an accommodation.

Types of Reasonable Accommodations:

There are many types of reasonable accommodations.  Here are some examples:

  • modifying weekly work schedule
  • providing extra time for exams or training
  • changing the height of a desk
  • installing a computer screen magnifier
  • hiring a reader or interpreter
  • transferring an employee to a more convenient location
  • restructuring job responsibilities
  • granting additional unpaid leave

Requesting Reasonable Accommodations:

A best practice approach if you have a disability is to have a list of requests and solutions ready when you speak with your employer or potential employer.   Things to consider when preparing for your conversation are:

  • The job description and its essential functions.
  • The exact job-related limitations your condition imposes and how they can be overcome by accommodations.
  • Identify potential accommodations and how effective each would be in allowing you to perform the job.
  • Estimate how long the accommodation would be needed.

Undue Hardship:

The ADA does not require employers to make reasonable accommodations that would cause them an undue hardship. An accommodation would be an undue hardship if it was too costly or disruptive to be adopted in the workplace.

The following factors will be considered to determine whether a particular accommodation presents an employer with an undue hardship:

  • the nature and cost of the accommodation
  • the financial resources of the employer
  • the nature of the business – size, composition, and structure
  • Previous accommodation costs already incurred in the workplace.

Financial difficulty alone is not usually sufficient to demonstrate an undue hardship. In fact, the amount of money employers typically need to pay to accommodate a worker’s disability is often surprisingly low.  Fifty percent of requested accommodations usually cost the employer less than $50. Courts will factor in other money sources such as tax credits, available deductions and the employee’s willingness to pay for the accommodation.     

Summary:

Reasonable accommodations are an area of the law that both employers and employees should be familiar with, as it is a topic that comes up quite often in workplace situations.  Employers need to have a strong grasp of the ADA and its requirements.  Employees need to understand their rights and protections should they have a disability.  To further discuss this topic or related matters, feel free to contact Wolfson and Klein-Wolfson, PLLC.

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