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How To Ask Your Employer for a Reasonable Accommodation

March 8, 2024 Americans with Disabilities Act Claims

And What To Do if They Refuse

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employees with a disability are allowed to ask employers for reasonable accommodations to help them perform their job duties. Here’s a general overview of that process.

What Is a Reasonable Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is any change to your workplace or routine that helps you do your job. There is no limit to the type of accommodation that can be given, as long as the employer finds it reasonable and you find it effective and helpful. Some examples include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Changes to the environment, such as adding a wheelchair-accessible ramp, handrails, or braille signage.
  • Changes to your workspace or tools, such as an ergonomic workstation, a screen reader, or a chair where you would normally be standing.
  • Providing an ASL interpreter for important events and meetings.
  • Re-assigning some of your tasks.
  • Changing testing or training requirements.
  • Changing your work schedule to accommodate doctors’ appointments or treatments.
  • Providing paid or unpaid leave in addition to FMLA and other sick time.
  • Allowing you to work from home or from a location with more accessibility.

How Should I Request a Reasonable Accommodation?

You can make the request either orally or in writing to your workplace supervisor, HR manager, or whoever you feel most comfortable asking, and they should know the correct person to pass your request to. You do not have to use the words “reasonable accommodation” or refer to the ADA; your employer should know from the context what you are requesting.

Generally speaking, you don’t have to initially disclose your diagnosis, but you do need to tell your employer that you are making the request for an accommodation because of a medical condition. The employer may need to confirm that your situation constitutes a disability under the ADA, or ask questions about the nature of your limitations in order to determine what the accommodation should be.

They may also ask you for documentation, although there are limits to what they can ask for. For instance, they can’t ask for your entire medical history or about health conditions that have nothing to do with your request.

You also don’t need to know exactly what the reasonable accommodation should be at the time you make your request. You may know—and that’s fine—but if you don’t, the next step should be an informal conversation between you and your employer to determine what would help you best in the workplace.

Does My Employer Have To Provide a Reasonable Accommodation?

Not necessarily. If there is more than one option for accommodations, the employer is allowed to choose the least burdensome or expensive—even if that’s not your preferred option—as long as it’s effective in helping you do your job.

Employers may also refuse to provide an accommodation if it’s an “undue burden” to them.

What constitutes an “undue burden” will vary depending on the employer and the requested accommodation. Some factors considered when weighing whether an accommodation is an undue burden include:

  • Your employer’s finances
  • The type of business and structure of its workforce
  • The cost and type of accommodation needed
  • Whether and how the accommodation impacts the employer’s ability to operate

Has Your Employer Denied Your Request for a Reasonable Accommodation?

If your employer has denied your request and you feel they were in the wrong, you may be entitled to compensation and other restitution in court. You should consider speaking to a qualified employment attorney. Your attorney can assess the situation, help you make proper appeals, and hold your employer accountable.  

We have helped many people challenge denials of reasonable accommodations, and we can help you, too. Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today. 

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.