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FAQs about reasonable accommodations in the workplace

If you have a disability and find it difficult to work, all hope is not lost. You may be able to request an employer to make changes to job duties, work environments or hiring processes to ensure you can fulfill your responsibilities. The Americans With Disability Act requires eligible employers to make reasonable accommodations to help workers with disabilities get jobs and perform their tasks to the same extent as workers without disabilities. 

But it can be difficult to know exactly what a reasonable accommodation is and how to fight for it. Here is a basic overview of workplace accommodations. 

Am I eligible to receive reasonable accommodations?

The first factor that determines whether you can ask for reasonable accommodation is if your condition qualifies as a disability under the ADA. You may have a qualifying disability if you have a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs at least one major life activity. It is also a requirement for you to be able to perform the essential functions of the job. 

Additionally, the employer must have at least five employees, according to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. An employer with fewer than five workers does not need to provide reasonable accommodations.

What are reasonable accommodations?

There are many modifications and adjustments that constitute reasonable accommodations:

  • Changing job tasks
  • Improving accessibility of a work area
  • Providing or adjusting a product, software or piece of equipment
  • Allowing a flexible work schedule
  • Reassigning to an open position
  • Changing the presentation of training or testing materials

This is not an exhaustive list. 

Additionally, for an accommodation to be reasonable, it must not cause undue hardship for the employer, which is a significant expense or difficulty. An employer may try to argue an accommodation is too disruptive, costly or extensive to adopt. That said, you may still be able to negotiate an accommodation.

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