ABCs of Employment Law: Reasonable Accommodations

Reasonable accommodations are an important part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Simply put, they refer to necessary modifications and adjustments that are made by an employer to allow employees with a disability to perform the essential functions of their job. However, there is much more to reasonable accommodations than meets the eye, and sometimes it can be confusing to discern what constitutes a disability or what the essential functions of a position are. The Walcheske & Luzi attorneys are here with more information you!

What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

Reasonable accommodations refer to any change to a job that allows a disabled person who is qualified for the position to perform the job. Reasonable accommodations are in place to give people with disabilities equal access to employment opportunities and can be implemented during the hiring process or after a person is accepted for a job.

Who is considered disabled under the ADA?

An individual meets the ADA definition of a “disability” if they have “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” If an individual meets this definition, then they are entitled to reasonable accommodations from their employer. If a disability is not obvious to the employer, the employer can request medical documentation from the individual’s healthcare provider to confirm the disability.

What are “essential functions?”

Essential functions refer to any job duties fundamental to the position. In other words, these duties are the reason a job exists. Some additional factors for determining essential functions include evaluating whether a task falls under the job description for the position, the number of employees able to perform the duty, and the skills required to be able to perform the duty.

What are some examples of Reasonable Accommodations?

Reasonable accommodations can be physical, technological, or policy related. Below is a list of examples from the U.S. Department of Labor:

  • Installing a ramp or modifying a rest room
  • Ensuring computer software is accessible
  • Providing screen reader software
  • Using videophones to facilitate communications with deaf colleagues
  • Providing sign language interpreters or closed captioning
  • Making materials available in Braille or large print
  • Adjusting work schedules so employees with chronic medical conditions can go to medical appointments and complete work at alternate times/locations

How do I request Reasonable Accommodations?

The process usually begins with the employee submitting a verbal or written request to their reasonable accommodation coordinator or HR representative. From there, the coordinator or representative will work with the employee and supervisor to find a sufficient accommodation. We recommend getting in touch with one of our attorneys before beginning the process to ask questions and get advice.

Do you have questions regarding Reasonable Accommodations that we haven’t addressed? The attorneys at Walcheske & Luzi are here to help you better understand your individual rights and employer obligations and responsibilities. Fill out our contact form and one of our attorneys will be in touch!