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A guide to reasonable accommodations for employees

On Behalf of | May 13, 2024 | Employment Law |

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees with disabilities from workplace discrimination. It introduces the concept of “reasonable accommodations” — these are modifications or adjustments to a job or work environment that help an employee with a disability perform job functions effectively.

When to request an accommodation

You should request accommodations when your disability interferes with your ability to perform your job duties. Examples of accommodations you may need are specialized equipment, modified work schedules, and physical changes to the work environment.

It’s important to make the request as soon as you recognize the need, ideally in writing. Clearly state the nature of your disability and how it affects your work, and suggest accommodations that would help you. The goal here is to enable productivity, not merely to provide convenience.

The employer’s response

Employers need to quickly look at requests for accommodations and start what the ADA refers to as an “interactive process.” This means having a conversation between the employer and the employee to figure out a good accommodation. Employers don’t have to give you the exact accommodation you ask for if there’s another one that works just as well. They also don’t have to provide an accommodation if it would be too difficult or expensive for the business, which can depend on things like how much it costs and the size of the company.

What if your employer denies your request?

If your employer denies your request for accommodation, they should explain their rationale. If you think the decision violates the ADA, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Empowering yourself through ADA rights

Understanding and advocating for your rights under the ADA can greatly enhance your work life. While the process of requesting accommodations might seem daunting, it represents a powerful step toward creating a more inclusive and accommodating workplace. Remember, you’re not alone—many resources and support systems are available to help you navigate these challenges.