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Legal How-To: Requesting an Accommodation at Work

Whether on account of a disability or religious practice, employees who require a modification or adjustment to their job duties have the right to request that an employer make a reasonable accommodation.

Under federal employment discrimination laws, an employer may be required to agree to reasonable accommodations that do not create an undue hardship or expense for the employer. These accommodations may include modifying schedules, providing new or modified equipment, adjusting employee policies, or making exceptions to company dress codes.

How can an employee request a workplace accommodation? Here's a general overview:

  1. Notify your employer of your need for an accommodation. An employer must be notified of the need for an accommodation. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an employee may make a request for an accommodation by using "plain English" and is not required to use the phrase "reasonable accommodation."
  2. State the specific reasons for your need for an accommodation. Although the employee is not required to recite specific legal terms, he or she will typically be required to explain the specific need for an accommodation.
  3. Respond to requests by your employer. For a disability-related accommodation, employers may have the right to request medical information to verify the need for an accommodation. According to the EEOC, when the disability or the need for the accommodation is not known or obvious, an employer may ask for documentation regarding the employee's disability. For religious accommodations, an employer with an objective basis for questioning the sincerity or religious nature of an employee's belief or practice may ask for additional information.
  4. Consult with an attorney. If an employee's request for an accommodation is denied or results in termination or other negative action, it may be necessary to consult with an employment lawyer to enforce an employee's rights.
  5. If necessary, file an EEOC complaint. In many cases, an employee who has been subject to discrimination will first be required to file a complaint with the EEOC. If the EEOC complaint is denied, the employee may then file a discrimination lawsuit.

Need More Help?

If you need more information regarding requesting a workplace accommodation or are denied a requested accommodation, an experienced discrimination lawyer can help you explore your legal options.

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