Do Employers Have To Accommodate Disabled Employees?

Do Employers Have To Accommodate Disabled Employees?

“My employer refuses to provide reasonable accommodations for my disability.  Doesn’t my employer have to do so?”

It depends.  If your employer has 15 or more employees, then you may be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  See 42 U.S.C. §§ 120101 et seq.  The ADA is a civil rights law designed to protect disabled people from discrimination in the workplace.

According to the ADA, a Disability is defined as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, like seeing, hearing, walking, lifting, or breathing.  In order to be directly protected under the ADA, you must have a Disability; or have a history of substantial impairment; or be considered disabled by your employer.

If you are covered under the ADA, your employer must provide Reasonable Accommodations that do not create undue hardship on the part of the employer.  This obligation is regardless of whether you work fulltime or part-time, or even whether you are a probationary employee.

Reasonable Accommodations can include making existing facilities accessible, modifying work schedules and equipment, changing tests and training materials, and providing qualified readers or interpreters.  For example, making a workspace wheelchair accessible or providing time for a diabetic employee to conduct blood sugar testing each day would constitute Reasonable Accommodations.

If a proposed accommodation would be an Undue Hardship on your employer, i.e., threatens its existence and financial security, then the employer is relieved from the duty to accommodate.  But keep in mind that Reasonable Accommodations should typically cost less than $500.  This cost should not pose a threat to the financial security of most employers subject to the ADA.  If your employer believes that the proposed accommodation would pose an Undue Hardship, then the important factors to examine would be the nature and cost of the proposed accommodation, the financial resources of the employer, the nature of the business, and any accommodation costs already incurred.

If you believe that you are being discriminated against by your employer because of your Disability, you should contact us, the experienced disability attorneys of Emroch & Kilduff, LLP.  We will be able to counsel you about the viability of a potential claim.  One Call, That’s All!

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William B. Kilduff


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