When you develop a disability that makes it harder for you to do your job, it’s not easy to ask your employer for accommodations. However, it is your right under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Getting your employer to actually give you those accommodations, however, can be another issue. As long as your employer is subject to the ADA, they are supposed to engage in meaningful discussions with you about your request.
Your right to workplace accommodations isn’t exactly guaranteed. It all comes down to the reasonableness of your request, and you and your employer may not see eye-to-eye on what that means.
When are accommodations considered unreasonable?
In legal terms, your employer is only supposed to deny accommodation requests if it would cause undue hardship to the company. Typically, that means that a request would be too disruptive to business operations or outrageously expensive to implement. Your employer also can’t be required to create a whole new job to work around your limitations, provide personal items like a wheelchair for your use nor eliminate any of your essential job functions.
So what kinds of accommodations are considered reasonable? Here are some examples:
- Providing you with a reserved parking space close to the building and installing ramps within the work environment because you have mobility issues
- Allowing you to work remotely, if you have the capacity, because you are immunosuppressed due to cancer treatments or something similar
- Giving you flex-time, additional breaks or the ability to make up lost time on the nights or weekends so you can cope with migraine attacks
- Providing you with software or equipment to accommodate your carpal tunnel syndrome or vision or hearing problems
A reasonable accommodation is nothing more than some small adjustment that makes it easier for you to do your job. It’s about “leveling the playing field” not giving you something extra or special treatment – which is how some employers act.
If your employer isn’t willing to negotiate, denies your request without further conversation or fires you for daring to ask for accommodations, learning more about your legal options can help.