You likely know about the American with Disabilities Act and your duty to accommodate disabled employees, but exactly, what is a reasonable accommodation?
Reasonableness is a fact-dependent inquiry based on the nature of the job, the disability, and the request, necessitating a unique analysis for every accommodation requested.
Though there are some requests that are inherently reasonable, the following guidelines are what the EEOC, and thus courts, use to determine reasonableness.
At its most basic level, an accommodation is reasonable so long as it does not place an undue hardship on an employer.
An undue hardship is a request that would cause significant difficulty or expense, including those accommodations that would be extensive, substantial, disruptive, or "fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business."
Again, this is a case-by-case analysis, meaning an employer has to determine just how intrusive an accommodation may be.
The next inquiry in deciding what is a reasonable accommodation occurs when there is more than one effective way to carry out the request.
Which do you choose?
Though discussing accommodations should be an interactive process between an employer and employee, ultimately the employer has the final say as to which accommodation to make.
As long as all options are equally effective, an employer may choose the option that best fits the business' objectives.
If after taking the time to go through this analysis you're still not sure about what constitutes a reasonable accommodation, or if an employee has made such a request, talk to an attorney about the finer details of disability law.
- Discrimination in Hiring and the Americans with Disability Act (FindLaw)
- New Guide Helps Small Business with ADA Rules (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- Who Now Qualifies as a Disabled Employee? (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)