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Disability discrimination, part 2: What does reasonable accommodation require?

Let’s pick up the thread of the discussion on disability discrimination that we began last week.

As we noted in our April 28 post, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other legal protections prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on disability.

In this part of the post, let’s look in more detail at the important concept of reasonable accommodation.

Federal disability law does not only require employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. It also requires such accommodation for job applicants.

And so, for example, an employer may be required to make a workplace accessible for people who use wheelchairs. This is a pretty straightforward example and is used by the Equal Opportunity Commission to explain the concept of reasonable accommodation.

But what if the employer contends that it would be too expensive to make changes in the workplace to make it financially feasible to employ someone with a particular disability?

In other words, at what point does an employer not have to provide a particular accommodation because doing so would constitute an undue hardship?

There are several factors that come into play in answering that question. They include:
• Nature of the requested accommodation
• Size of the business
• Existence of other types of accommodations

There is no set answer for how these factors should be balanced. But when making the case for why an accommodation should be made, it helps to have an attorney on your side, advocating for you.

After all, left to their own devices, employers often tend to take the path of least resistance. Instead of taking proactive steps to accommodate a disability, they may push back against making entirely reasonable changes.

To learn more about our firm’s practice, please visit our page on disability discrimination.

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