Reasonable Accommodation is defined as a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment or the way things are done that enables a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy an equal employment opportunity. In most cases, the accommodation is minor. For example, an employer may raise the height of a desk by putting it on blocks to accommodate an employee's wheel chair. An employer may use two or three drawer file cabinets rather than the taller four drawer ones, to accommodate a file clerk who uses a wheel chair.
An employer should make reasonable accommodations to ensure equal opportunity in the application process, to enable qualified individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job and to enable an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
An employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental disability of a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless it can be shown that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the business.
The reasonable accommodation made by the employer must be effective, must apply only to the accommodations that reduce the employment barriers related to the disability, need not be just effective and should not be required for personal use (things like eye glasses, hearing aides or artificial limbs). An employer can go beyond the legal requirements in providing accommodations to a qualified individual with a disability.
To determine reasonable accommodation the employer should evaluate the essential functions of the job, consult with the person who has the disability and identify problem tasks and effective solutions.
An employer does not have to provide accommodation if the accommodation would pose a threat of harm to the employee, co-workers, clients and others; or if the accommodation would result in undue hardship, that is the accommodation is too costly, extensive, substantially disruptive or would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.
In most cases, accommodations are not costly. The average accommodation costs less than $500.
An employer cannot ask a job applicant about reasonable accommodations before a job offer is made. The employer can lay out the essential functions of the job and determine if the applicant is qualified to perform those functions.
An employee must request the reasonable accommodation. The employer does not automatically have to provide the reasonable accommodation whether he or she knows about the disability. The employee may request the reasonable accommodation after a job offer is extended or at any time during employment. An employee does not have to request a reasonable accommodation at the beginning of employment, but it is a good ideal to request reasonable accommodations before job performance suffers or problem behaviors arise.
An employee may request reasonable accommodations at any time during employment.
The following was taken from the EEOC's Enforcement Guidance in the ADA and Psychiatric Disabilities:
Practice Writing an Accommodation Letter
To file a complaint, contact the EEOC at 800-669-4000 within 180 days.
If you have questions about your rights under the ADA to employment and/or reasonable accommodation, you can contact the following agencies:
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