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Wills & Probate

How should an employer respond to an ADA request for accommodation?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees who need them to complete their job duties. Reasonable means in essence available without undue hardship to the employer.  An employee who needs a reasonable accommodation should notify the employer. The notification does not need to be in writing, and the employee can request a reasonable accommodation at any time during employment. Additionally, job applicants also may request reasonable accommodations in order to complete the interview process.

 

Once an employer receives a request for accommodation, the employer should meet with the employee to discuss the types of accommodations available. Employers may ask the employee about the nature of the disability and how it impairs his or her ability to complete the job. Employers may ask the employee to demonstrate how the disability limits his or her job performance and ask for suggestions about the type of accommodations sought.

 

It is best to ask for a medical opinion from an employee’s doctor or licensed professional stating the disabilities involved and the accommodations required. If the disability or the need for reasonable accommodations is not obvious, the employer may ask the employee to submit documentation that the employee has an ADA-protected disability and that the disability requires reasonable accommodation. The type of professional will depend on the type of disability the employee claims to have. Employers cannot request information from the employee that is unrelated to the specific disability. For example, employers may not request an employee's entire medical file.

 

Employers do not have to provide the most expensive accommodation or even the best accommodation - only the most reasonable one, which means an accommodation which will effectively allow an employee to perform his or her job duties without undue hardship or expense to the employer. Likewise, employers do not have to provide the exact accommodation requested by the employee. Employers also do not have to provide accommodations that may have a personal use outside of work, such as a wheelchair. Finally, employers do not have to provide accommodations that would create an undue hardship for the business, such as overly expensive accommodations or those unreasonably difficult to provide.