Understanding the employment laws that impact your organization is vital to limiting liability and maintaining compliance. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability and requires that covered employers (those with 15 or more employees) provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. We often get questions from employers about what types of accommodations they may be required to provide to disabled employees.
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that enables a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to ensure that a qualified individual with a disability has the same rights and privileges in employment as employees without disabilities. Some types of reasonable accommodation include:
- Alternative working schedules
- Reassignment to a different position
- Provision of interpreters
- Physical accessibility and usability
- Alteration of equipment and/or provision of different equipment
- Restructuring of job duties
- Modified examinations, training sessions or policies
Leave from work beyond FMLA leave entitlement may also be considered a reasonable accommodation.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), reasonable accommodations are to be determined by an “interactive process.” The interactive process should consist of an open dialogue between the employer and the qualified individual about what types of reasonable accomondation(s) can be made to ensure that the applicant or employee can perform the essential functions of the position. Employers should document the interactive process to demonstrate good faith efforts in providing reasonable accommodation(s) to any qualified individuals, should claims of discrimination arise.
Reasonable accommodations must be provided to candidates and employees, unless the accommodation would cause the employer “undue hardship,” as defined under the ADA.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against a candidate or employee who has requested reasonable accommodations. Penalties for ADA violations can be up to $75,000 for the first offense and $150,000 for subsequent offenses. Make sure all supervisors understand the ADA interactive process and requirements for reasonable accommodation.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided guidance for employers about complying with ADA reasonable accommodation requirements.
- EEOC publication “The ADA: Your Responsibilities as an Employer”
- EEOC enforcement guidance “Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship under the Americans with Disabilities Act”
If you have questions about ADA, reasonable accommodation, please contact am member of our People Strategy team at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801) 443-1090.