What are reasonable accommodations for disabled employees?

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that employers provide what are called reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. This means that an employer cannot just fire an employee with a disability who has trouble doing a job, they must try to find ways to make the job and workplace easier for the disabled individual to perform her job.

What are some examples of reasonable accommodations?

Reasonable accommodations can range from a company placing a ramp in the workplace so that an employee in a wheel chair can move around to modifying a work schedule so that a disabled individual can visit the doctor on a regular basis. Some other examples of reasonable accommodations include restructuring a job, reassigning a qualified individual to a different position, or providing different testing procedures.

The exact details of a reasonable accommodation are determined by the individual facts of each case, so just because your case does not fall into a neat category already designated by the law you may still be entitled to an accommodation.

When does the employer have to give a reasonable accommodation?

An employer has to give an accommodation to any person with a “known” disability. Thus the employer must be aware that the person is disabled. The requirement is normally triggered whenever the employee asks for an accommodation from the employer. If the person does not ask for an accommodation the employer will not be required to give one unless the person’s disability would make it impossible for the employee to communicate her need for an accommodation.

Must an employer always provide a reasonable accommodation?

An employer may not have to provide a reasonable accommodation if it places an undue burden on the employer. An undue burden can mean that the financial cost of the accommodation is unreasonable or the accommodation would greatly affect or harm the employers operation. This is determined by the facts of each individual case and the size, resources, nature and structure of the employer’s operation are all taken into account.

Conclusion

If you are disabled and you are having trouble at work, you have the right to an accommodation to assist you in your job. You must ask the employer and as long as it does not place an undue burden on them, they must provide it. If you have questions concerning reasonable accommodations please contact KM&A for a free consultation.