Holding down a job when you’re disabled can be challenging, to say the least. Even though you have the skills necessary to complete the job, you might come face to face with everyday obstacles that prevent you from optimal performance. You certainly don’t want those issues to reflect poorly on your performance, which is why it’s important that you request reasonable accommodations to help you complete the tasks that have been assigned to you. Keep in mind, too, that you can request these accommodations at any point in the employment process, even during hiring.
Reasonable accommodations under the ADA
Under the American with Disabilities Act, qualifying employers are required to provide you with accommodations to help you perform your job or otherwise engage in the employment process. In other words, the accommodation should be aimed at ensuring that you have an equal employment opportunity, and those accommodations can be made at any point in the employment process. This may include providing you with an alternative work schedule, providing you with special equipment, or allowing you to have a service animal on the premises.
Is an employer required to provide a reasonable accommodation?
In most cases, yes. However, there are some caveats. Perhaps the biggest among them is that the accommodation that’s requested can’t place an undue hardship on the employer. An undue hardship essentially means that complying with the requested accommodation would be too costly for the employer or too difficult, such as when the accommodation would disrupt business operations.
How is a potential undue hardship analyzed?
This assessment is made on a case-by-case basis and is, therefore, largely dependent on the facts at hand. However, when analyzing whether a requested accommodation creates an undue hardship, the following factors will be taken into account:
- The expense needed to implement the accommodation
- The financial resources of the building where the accommodation is to be made
- The financial resources of the employer and thus its ability to provide the accommodation
- The type of operations implemented by the employer
- How the accommodation will affect business operations
However, before an employer says that an accommodation is too costly, it is expected that it will consider whether outside funding is available to help cover the expense of implementing the requested accommodation.
This may mean assessing whether grant funding or donations are available, whether tax credits are applicable, or whether the employee is willing to cover any costs that can’t be covered by the employer. This means, then, that your employer should be proactive in finding a way to provide you with the accommodation that you request.
What if your employer says that an undue hardship is created by the request?
If this happens, you shouldn’t give up. Instead, you should try to negotiate with your employer to see if there are any alternative arrangements that would still allow you to adequately perform your job duties. Your employer should, therefore, try to be creative in finding ways to make the workplace right for you.
Additionally, if your reasonable accommodation request is denied, you should consider the justifications for it. For example, if your employer makes statements indicating that your accommodation request wasn’t granted because it negatively impacted employee motivation, your request was likely wrongfully denied. There are many other ways that a denied reasonable accommodation request may be wrongfully denied.
Holding your employer accountable for violating your rights
You have a number of workplace protections. If your rights under existing state and federal laws are violated, you may be justified in taking legal action, especially if you were harmed in some way, such as by losing your job or being denied a job opportunity.
But the laws that are applicable to these kinds of situations are complicated and nuanced. Yet, you have to be able to effectively navigate them if you hope to secure an outcome that is fair. That’s where the assistance of an experienced employment law professional like those at our firm may prove beneficial.