What are reasonable accommodations? Who is eligible for them?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2019 | Firm News

If you have a disability, you most likely are familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA gives those with disabilities equal rights in many areas, including in the workplace. As part of the ADA, employers with more than 15 employees must give potential and current employees reasonable accommodations to do their jobs.

“Reasonable accommodation” is a legal term. It means that employers need to give employees with disabilities a fair chance to get a job. They also need to give employees the ability to perform their work duties well. As a result, employers must modify the following for those with disabilities:

  • Hiring practices
  • Workplace environments
  • Company policies
  • Management techniques

Employers must provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would cause serious hardship.

Reasonable accommodation eligibility

To be eligible for a reasonable accommodation, an employee must have a mental or physical disability that limits one or more life activity. Over the years, the ADA has protected employees with visual impairments, hearing impairments, physical disabilities, mental disabilities and even mental health conditions.

Examples of reasonable accommodations

Providing reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities includes the following:

  • Making physical changes to the workplace. An employer can add wheelchair ramps or modify bathrooms to accommodate wheelchair users.
  • Using assistive technology and communications. An employer can give employees with visual impairments screen reader software. Employers can give those who are deaf video relay services.
  • Changing workplace policies. Employers can offer those with disabilities an altered work schedule, more frequent breaks or the option to telecommute.

For those who suffer from mental health conditions, reasonable accommodations even can include having supervisors adjust their management style. For example, a supervisor may give an employee with an anxiety disorder feedback via email instead of with verbal communication. That way, the employee’s anxiety is less likely to occur.

Asking for an accommodation

Employees with a disability can ask for a reasonable accommodation during the hiring process. They also can ask for one any time after being hired. You can request a reasonable accommodation verbally or in writing. Also, family members or a doctor may request an accommodation for you.

If you are denied a reasonable accommodation, consult an experienced employment law attorney. An attorney can help you to determine if were the victim of disability discrimination or how an employer can better accommodate your needs.