What Is a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA?
If you have been diagnosed with a physical or psychological condition that is hindering your ability to perform your normal job duties, it’s important to know that you have legal protections under a federal law called the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Cincinnati lawyers at Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A. have experience handling disability cases, and we think it’s important that our clients understand the laws against disability discrimination as well.
The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees so that those employees can work without worrying about the constraints of their disability (or disabilities). The ADA was enacted to ensure that all Americans have equal opportunities in regards to “job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.” When an employee suffers from a disabling condition, he has the right to one or more “reasonable accommodations,” which are intended to level the playing field for disabled and non-disabled employees.
There are three major parts to this legislation: Title I mandates that private employers with 15 or more employees provide “reasonable accommodations” to disabled employees; Title II requires state and federal governments to provide “reasonable accommodations” to disabled employees; and Title III mandates that all public places (such as sports stadiums or shopping malls) provide equal accessibility to goods and services.
Accordingly, employees may wonder, what exactly is a “reasonable accommodation”? Whether an accommodation will be considered “reasonable” depends on the circumstances of the employee, the employer, and the job itself. What’s “reasonable” for a Fortune 500 Company may not be “reasonable” for a small company with just 20 employees.
Generally, “reasonable accommodations” are determined by three main parties: the individual employee, the employer, and the employee’s doctor. The parties should engage in what is called “the interactive process” to determine whether a proposed accommodation is reasonable. When engaging in the process, you should consider:
- What your job duties necessarily require?
- How does your disability affect your ability to perform these duties?
- What accommodations would allow you to fully perform your job duties?
- Have these or similar accommodations previously been considered reasonable under the law?
- Are these accommodations that your employer could provide to you without costing your employer an excessive and undue amount of money?
Discussing your disability with your employer can be difficult, and many people find that it is helpful for a disability lawyer to assist in explaining discrimination laws and negotiating reasonable accommodations. Employees subject to disability discrimination in a covered workplace may also file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
It’s certainly not easy to define “reasonable accommodations,” but if you’re struggling to perform your job because of a physical or psychological disability, it might be time to consult with an employment attorney. If you would like more information concerning whether you are covered under federal employment laws, or to discuss your options for dealing with a disability related issue in the workplace, contact the Cincinnati employment lawyers at Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A. today.