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What everybody should understand about reasonable accommodations

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2024 | Uncategorized |

There’s been a lot of progress regarding workplace environments when it comes to inclusivity and acceptance in recent years, especially when it comes to workers with disabilities and disability accommodations.

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, it helps to have a clear idea of what reasonable accommodations look like in the workplace (and what they do not) so that you can better understand your rights and obligations under the law.

What does reasonable accommodation look like?

Reasonable accommodations eliminate burdens on the employee without adding undue burdens to the employer. Since every disability can be unique, the possibilities are endless, but it generally requires minimal expense and effort on the employer’s part and won’t disrupt normal business operations.

Reasonable accommodations can include:

  • Switching someone’s parking spot so that it is closer to the office door
  • Adding accessibility features to a work area, restroom or break room
  • Permitting an employee to use a chair instead of standing at their station
  • Allowing an employee to use a flexible work schedule or flexible leave
  • Reassigning an employee to a desk that is away from others
  • Permitting an employee to wear headphones at their desk
  • Providing an employee with specialized software, equipment or resources
  • Using written communication with an employee instead of verbal

Employers are only required to make accommodations once they become aware that an employee has a disability and that their disability affects their ability to perform their job or make use of some workplace benefit.

What is not a reasonable accommodation?

Reasonable accommodations aren’t reasonable if they cause hardship for the employer. Large companies generally have more resources and flexibility with certain accommodations than others, but some examples of “unreasonable accommodations” might include:

  • Eliminating an essential job function for the employee
  • Creating a whole new position for the employee
  • Changing productivity standards to meet an employee’s output
  • Allowing broad leave, without restrictions or accountability

The path toward securing reasonable accommodations in the workplace can get complicated, as not every workplace is willing to make adjustments, even when they should. If you believe that you have experienced disability discrimination on the job, it may be time to learn more about your legal rights. Similarly, if you’re unsure of whether your business needs to accommodate an employee, seeking legal guidance can be beneficial.