Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to allow employees with disabilities the ability to perform their job duties successfully. A disability is legally defined as having a physical or mental impairment, a record of a physical or mental impairment, or regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more bodily functions or major life activities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides disabled persons federal civil rights protection from discrimination, and it provides equal opportunity for employment and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities in businesses with 15 or more employees.
Reasonable accommodations are changes to the job description, application process, or workplace for disabled individuals to apply for a position and the ability to perform essential job duties. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:
- Changes to the make the workplace more accessible, such as installing ramps and elevators and providing accessible bathroom facilities for employees who use a wheelchair or walker.
- Altering or adding necessary equipment to allow a disabled employee to successfully perform their job duties, such as computer programs that convert text to speech for the blind and videophone communication for the deaf.
- Modifications to the work schedule for the disabled and employees with chronic medical conditions to accommodate for medical appointments and the flexibility to complete work at alternate times or locations.
- Reassigning a disabled employee to a more suitable open position, if qualified, should the employee’s disability prevent them from performing the duties in their current job.
- Adjusting policies to allow service animals in the workplace.
- Providing handicapped parking or providing a reserved parking space closer to the building for an employee unable to walk long distances.
Requesting Reasonable Accommodations
If you require an accommodation that is not already provided for your job, you must request one and you will need to disclose the nature of your disability. Making an ADA request for accommodation does not have to be in writing unless you prefer to do so, but you must inform your employer that you require an accommodation due to the medical condition.
Written requests are typically submitted to both your supervisor and the company’s Human Resources (HR) department and should include that you are requesting a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
Following your request, your employer may choose to grant it or work together with you to find a suitable alternative. While employers are required to meet the needs of their employees, however, they may not be required to provide an employee’s first choice of accommodation. Keep in mind that employers may request medical documentation from your provider in cases of disabilities with no physical presentation.
Employers are not required to make reasonable accommodations if doing so would impose an undue hardship to the business’s operation and is determined on a case-by-case basis. Undue hardship may be applicable if the accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense in relation to the business size, available resources, and the type of business operation.
There are also certain items that are not considered reasonable accommodations that employers are not required to implement, such as:
- Eliminate a primary responsibility of the job.
- Lower standards of production that apply to all employees.
- Provide personal items, such as hearing aids, eyeglasses, and the like.
- Excuse violations of conduct rules that apply to all employees, such as violence or threats of violence, theft, or destruction of property, and is permitted to discipline a disabled employee the same as any other employee.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist Clients Entitled to Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace
If you believe your employer has wrongfully denied your requests for a reasonable accommodation to allow you to successfully complete your job responsibilities, our Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help. Call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.