Employer's Duty to Accommodate

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations so disabled workers can keep their jobs. Unfortunately, the ADA does not specifically outline what “accommodations” must be made upon hiring a disabled person. Because courts also disagree on this issue, most accommodation disputes will end up in court until “accommodations” can be specifically defined.

Reasonable accommodation can refer to changes to the work environment or the position itself. Work environment changes typically require the alteration of the workplace so that it is usable for disabled individuals. For instance, the company may utilize ramps or elevators, different chairs or computers, or alternate lighting. Job modifications may include shortening or changing the work schedule, adjusting training materials, or moving the worker to another open position.

The employer is expected to make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers, granted these changes do not cause “undue hardship” to company. Under the ADA, “undue hardship” is defined as a “significant difficulty or expense.” Factors that may be considered when considering “undue hardship” include:

  • Cost of the accommodation
  • Nature of the accommodation
  • Financial resources of the company
  • The number of workers at the facility
  • Impact of the accommodation on the business’ expenses, resources or operations
  • Employer’s size and resources
  • Type of operations affected by the accommodation

Companies are not required to accommodate disabilities they did not know about. In other words, a disabled employee cannot file a claim for a condition that was unknown to the employer. In addition, some workers and their employers may disagree when determining which medical conditions are “disabilities.”

If you believe your employer discriminated against you because of your disability, fill out our free case evaluation form. A disability attorney will evaluate your claim, at no cost to you, to determine whether you are eligible for compensation.