Disability Discrimination: What Is a Reasonable Accommodation?

By: JML Law | May 8, 2018.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to provide disabled employees with a reasonable accommodation if they request it, as long as the request does not cause undue hardship to the employer.

When someone requests an accommodation, but their employer decides to take adverse employment action instead of providing the accommodation, that is a form of disability discrimination. Simply ignoring the request is a form of discrimination too. In those situations, you need an employment discrimination lawyer in Riverside to help.

What is an Accommodation

An accommodation is a change in the work atmosphere or work processes. This change enables someone with a disability to have equal employment opportunities. Generally, there are three categories of accommodations that would be considered “reasonable.”

  1. Changes to the job application process that would enable someone with a disability to be considered for the position
  2. Alterations to the work environment that allow someone with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job
  3. Adjustments that would enable an employee who cannot enjoy benefits or privileges that would be enjoyed by other similarly situated employees who do not have disabilities

An accommodation could be to remove physical obstacles that inhibit someone with a disability, or it could be changed in procedures or rules, such as when breaks can be taken or overall timing of when work must be performed. Other examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  1. Changing testing materials
  2. Modifying or adjusting work schedules
  3. Job restructuring
  4. Improving existing facilities so that they are accessible

Reasonable accommodations allow those with disabilities to do jobs that they would be otherwise qualified to do. It also helps create opportunities for disabled individuals who might not otherwise be able to apply for a specific position.

Keep in mind that an employer does not have to eliminate an essential function of the job to create an accommodation for a worker who is disabled. Someone who cannot perform the essential functions of the position is not qualified for that particular position.

When Does an Accommodation Create an Undue Hardship

Employers are not required to accommodate employees if it would create an undue hardship. A reasonable employment modification or adjustment “seems reasonable on its face.” It must be feasible, plausible, and not out of the ordinary.

Undue hardship is often described as very difficult or expensive. To determine whether an undue hardship exists, the judge will consider the very specific facts of the situation. Disruptive or extensive changes to the business are likely going to be an undue hardship.

Because of the limited definition of undue hardship, most requests for accommodations that are reasonable should be granted. If you request an accommodation based on your disability but your employer ignores you or argues that it is too expensive, you may have a legal claim for disability discrimination. You need a Riverside employment discrimination lawyer to examine your situation and help you determine your options. JML Law can help. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you fight for your rights under the ADA.

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