What Do ADA Reasonable Accommodations Look Like?
Short Answer: Anything You Need.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) says that qualifying employers have to offer employees with disabilities accommodations in the workplace. But that term—“reasonable accommodations”—can sound a bit vague. What does it mean?
The simple answer is that anything can be a reasonable accommodation, as long as it helps an employee with disabilities apply, get hired, and perform their job duties. But there are some limits on what an employer is required to do.
Reasonable accommodations don’t begin and end after you’ve been hired—they also apply to the hiring process. Generally, they should be offered so that employees with disabilities have equal opportunity to apply for jobs, aren’t shut out from the job market, and can perform the essential functions of their job.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations
There is no limit to what may be considered a reasonable accommodation. Employers and employees can get creative in devising accommodations that help the employee perform their job without presenting an undue burden to the employer.
Here are a few examples of common accommodations for employees with disabilities.
- Changes to facilities. These could include ramps, elevators, and escalators; accessible restrooms; or ergonomic or wheelchair-accessible workstations.
- Job restructuring measures. These might look like allowing a shorter work week or different hours to accommodate an employee’s treatments and recovery; or transferring an employee to a different location where medical care is more accessible.
- Accessible communications. This might include sign-language interpreters or closed captioning; Braille documentation and signage; or hiring a reader to assist an employee.
- Accessible technologies. This could include screen-reading software for sight-impaired individuals, or videophones for employees with hearing impairments.
- Policy changes. These may include changing a policy to allow service animals at work; let an employee with disabilities work from home; allow oral exams; or permit more time for exams.
The “Undue Hardship” Exception
Many workplace accommodations can be done with minimal cost and effort to the employer. However, the ADA does not require a company to make an accommodation that would cause it “undue hardship”—meaning that it would be very difficult or expensive to implement, or disrupt the business’s operations.
While it’s difficult to state definitively what constitutes a hardship for a particular business, the EEOC has some guidelines as to what it considers when evaluating whether an accommodation is an “undue hardship” for a particular employer. These include:
- The cost of implementing the accommodation, compared with the employer’s financial position.
- The cost of other accommodations already in place at that company.
- Sources of funding, such as tax credits and deductions, available for making accommodations.
- The nature of the business and how the accommodation would impact its function.
Is Your Employer Refusing to Offer a Reasonable Accommodation?
If your employer is refusing your requests for a reasonable accommodation, they may be in violation of federal law. You should talk to an experienced employment attorney who can assess the situation, determine what laws apply, and help you gain restitution in court.
Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.