The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Reasonable Accommodations, and Undue Hardship for the Workplace
Author: Cassandra Lattin, COO
Title 1 of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires an employer with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, unless it would cause undue hardship.
A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. While there are some things that are not considered reasonable accommodations (e.g. removal of an essential job function or personal use items such as a hearing aid that is needed on and off the job), reasonable accommodations can cover most things that enable an individual to apply for a job, perform a job, or have equal access to the workplace and employee benefits such as kitchens, parking lots, and office events.
The reasonableness of an accommodation depends on a lot of factors, and what is reasonable for one employer and situation may not be reasonable in another.
Five (5) common types of accommodations include:
- Adjusting work schedules when possible
- Shifting breaks and rest periods within the confines of the law
- Modifying how job duties are performed while ensuring the needs of the company are met
- Making changes in workplace policies while balancing the needs of the company
- Providing assistive technology, including information technology and communications equipment or specially designed furniture
Here are Five (5) common things to consider when evaluating undue hardship:
- What is the financial and physical cost of the necessary accommodation
- What are the company’s financial resources
- How many employees do you have
- How would the accommodation affect your resources
- How does your company currently operate? Include the administrative and physical requirement of the accommodation
“When you start to think of what is a reasonable accommodation, and whether or not you can make the sacrifice, remember the word reasonable.”
“As a small business owner, ask yourself, how the employee would like to be treated. If it is within reason, and does not add a significant financial cost to your organization, make the accommodation. Happy employees, tend to be more productive employees.”
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