The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities to help them perform their job duties. A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that allows an employee with a disability to perform their job duties. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations unless it would cause undue hardship to the employer. Refusing a reasonable accommodation that does not cause an undue hardship is a form of disability discrimination.
Under the ADA, an employee with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation from their employer. The employee does not need to use any specific language or mention the ADA when making the request. The request can be made verbally or in writing, and the employer is required to engage in an interactive process with the employee to determine the appropriate reasonable accommodation. An experienced employment lawyer can help you obtain a reasonable accommodation or represent you if you have been denied one.
Examples of reasonable accommodations that employers may be required to provide under the ADA include:
- Modification of job duties or responsibilities: Employers may be required to modify the job duties or responsibilities of an employee with a disability to help them perform their job. This may include changing the employee’s work schedule, providing additional training or job coaching, or reallocating certain tasks.
- Modification of the work environment: Employers may be required to modify the physical work environment to help employees with disabilities perform their job duties. This may include installing wheelchair ramps, modifying workstations, or providing assistive technology such as screen readers.
- Modification of policies or procedures: Employers may be required to modify their policies or procedures to accommodate employees with disabilities. For example, an employer may need to modify its attendance policy to allow for additional time off for medical appointments or to accommodate a chronic health condition.
- Flexible work arrangements: Employers may be required to provide flexible work arrangements to employees with disabilities, such as telecommuting or a modified work schedule.
Employers are not required to provide every accommodation that an employee requests. The accommodation must be reasonable, meaning that it must be effective in allowing the employee to perform their job duties, and it must not cause undue hardship to the employer. In general, undue hardship means that the accommodation would be too difficult or too expensive for the employer to provide.
When evaluating whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship, the employer must consider several factors, including the cost of the accommodation, the financial resources of the employer, the nature of the employer’s business, and the impact that the accommodation would have on the operation of the business. If an employer determines that an accommodation would cause undue hardship, the employer must work with the employee to identify an alternative accommodation that would be effective and would not cause undue hardship.
Employers should have a clear policy in place for handling requests for reasonable accommodations. The policy should include information on the process for requesting an accommodation, the documentation that may be required to support the request, and the time frame for making a decision on the request. The policy should also provide guidance on how to evaluate whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship and how to document the decision-making process.
Employers must also keep confidential any information related to an employee’s disability and the reasonable accommodations that are provided. The employer should only share information about the disability and the accommodations with individuals who need to know in order to implement the accommodations. This information should be kept separate from the employee’s personnel file.
In conclusion, the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities to help them perform their job duties. Employers must engage in an interactive process with the employee to determine the appropriate accommodation, and they must provide the accommodation unless it would cause undue hardship. Employers should have a clear policy in place for handling requests for reasonable accommodations, and they should keep confidential any information related to the employee’s disability and the accommodations provided. By providing reasonable accommodations, employers can help employees with disabilities to be more productive and successful in the workplace.