Reasonable Accommodation Explained

Reasonable Accommodation Explained

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires that all employers provide reasonable accommodation to any qualified job applicants or employees with disabilities, unless doing so causes the employer undue hardship

A reasonable accommodation is a change to a work environment or in the way things are normally done in order to help a disabled individual enjoy the same employment opportunities and privileges as any other employee.

Reasonable accommodation must be made available to all qualified disabled job applicants and employees. This applies whether an individual works part-time or full-time. Furthermore, a disabled job applicant or employee must request the necessary accommodation from an employer. 

Categories Of Reasonable Accommodation

Examples Of Reasonable Accommodation

Modifications That Are Not Considered Reasonable

Undue Hardship

Categories Of Reasonable Accommodation

  1. Modifications to a job application process which can help an otherwise qualified disabled job applicant be considered for a position he or she desires.
  2.  Modifications to either a work environment, the manner, or the circumstances under which a desired job is held or customarily performed that are intended to help an otherwise qualified disabled individual perform the necessary functions of that job.
  3. Modifications to enable a disabled individual to enjoy the same benefits and privileges of employment that are enjoyed by similarly situated employees without disabilities.

Examples Of Reasonable Accommodation

A modification is reasonable when it seems reasonable on its face. In other words, it appears feasible or plausible. Further, it must also meet the needs of a disabled individual and it must help an individual perform his or her essential job functions. 

Finally, a reasonable accommodation must enable a disabled job applicant or employee to have the same opportunities to compete for a job and ultimately enjoy the same privileges of employment as any other employee.  

Below are a few reasonable accommodations an employer may be required to provide:

  • Making facilities more accessible.
  • Offering part-time or modified work schedules.
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment, as necessary.
  • Job restructuring.
  • Modifying policies, tests, or training materials.
  • Reassignment to a vacant position.
  • Offering readers or interpreters.

Example 1 — A janitorial company rotates its staff members to different floors once a month. Jimmy, an experienced janitor, has a psychiatric disability. Jimmy’s mental illness has no effect on his ability to perform his cleaning functions, but it does it make it difficult for him to adjust to the monthly rotations in floor assignments.

Jimmy speaks to his employer and asks for a reasonable accommodation. He suggests either staying on one floor throughout his employment, staying on one floor for 2 months and then changing floors, or allowing for a transition period while he adjusts to the rotation in floor assignments. 

Jimmy’s requests for an accommodation is reasonable and appears to be a feasible solution to dealing with the changes to his work routine. His accommodation is also effective because it does not affect his work performance. 

Example 2 — Mia is a liquor store cashier who frequently becomes fatigued because of lupus. Because of her medical condition, Mia often has a hard time making it through her entire shift without becoming exhausted. 

Mia requests a chair to sit on because sitting will help reduce her fatigue. This is a reasonable accommodation because she can easily complete her necessary job duties just as effectively while sitting down. 

Modifications That Are Not Considered Reasonable 

A disabled employee who is incapable of performing his or her necessary job functions, with or without reasonable accommodation, is not considered a qualified individual. Therefore, an employer is not obligated to eliminate an essential function as an accommodation. 

An employer is also not required to lower work standards that are applied to all other employees with or without disabilities. However, an employer may choose to waive a job function or lower work standards if it desires. 

On the other hand, an employer may be required to provide a reasonable accommodation to help a disabled employee meet work standards. 

An employer is not required to provide personal use items that will be used on and off the job as reasonable accommodations. For example, an employer does not have to provide a wheelchair if it will also be needed off the job. 

Also, an employer is not required to provide personal use items if those items are not also offered to employees who are not disabled. Finally, personal use items may be required as an accommodation if they are specifically intended to help a disabled employee fulfill their job related needs.

Undue Hardship

The only legal limitation on an employer to provide a disabled employee with a reasonable accommodation is when that request would cause the employer undue hardship. Undue hardship means that providing a specific accommodation will cause an employer significant difficulty or expense

Undue hardship does not necessarily refer to financial difficulty, but can include requests that are substantial, extensive, or disruptive, as well as those that may fundamentally alter the normal operation of a business. 

What Can West Coast Employment Lawyers Do For You?

If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The discrimination lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling discrimination cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.

We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with an discrimination attorney in California, contact our office at 1-800-247-9235.

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