FAQ: Reasonable Accommodation

Question:

What is recommended when creating a process for identifying a reasonable accommodation for an employee?

Answer:

1. Discuss the job. Employers are required to provide accommodations that enable workers to perform the essential functions of a job.  The essential and marginal functions are often part of the formal job description. However, it is useful to discuss job tasks and processes with the employee to get more details. 

2.  Discuss how the disability impacts the job.  For example, discuss how the employee believes the disability influences the essential job functions of the job. Identify performance issues and discuss how these could be addressed with an accommodation.

3. Discuss accommodation options.  Identify potential accommodations and assess how effective each would be in enabling the individual to perform essential job functions. If this consultation does not identify an appropriate accommodation, guidance is available from a number of sources; many without cost. For example, you can contact your regional ADA Center at 800-949-4232 or the Job Accommodation Network at (800) 526-7234 to assist you with accommodation ideas.

4. If more than one accommodation would be effective or if the individual would prefer to provide  his/her own accommodation, the individual's preference should be given consideration. However, the employer is free to choose among effective accommodations, and may choose one that is less expensive or easier to provide.

The fact that an individual is willing to provide his or her own accommodation does not relieve the employer of the duty to provide a reasonable accommodation should this individual for any reason be unable or unwilling to continue to provide their own accommodation.

Question:

What are some examples of reasonable accommodations?

Answer:

There are wide ranges of accommodations that could be considered by employers.  People with the same type of disability could need very different accommodations, depending on the person, the condition and the job.  Here are some examples:

  • making facilities readily accessible to and usable by an individual with a disability;
  • changing marginal (non-essential) job functions;
  • changing how an essential job function is performed;
  • using part-time or modified work schedules;
  • obtaining or modifying equipment or devices;
  • modifying examinations, training materials or policies;
  • providing qualified readers and interpreters;
  • reassignment to a vacant position;
  • permitting use of accrued paid leave or unpaid leave for necessary treatment;
  • providing reserved parking for a person with a mobility impairment; and
  • allowing an employee to provide equipment or devices that an employer is not required to provide.

Question:

Who is entitled to a reasonable accommodation?

Answer:

According to the ADA, an individual is entitled to a reasonable accommodation if s/he:

  • Is a qualified individual with a disability who has the skills, education and experience needed to do the essential functions of a job
  • Needs an accommodation to go through the job application process or/and to perform the essential functions of a job

The employer is obligated to provide an accommodation unless these would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business.

Question:

What is a reasonable accommodation?

Answer:

According to the EEOC, a reasonable accommodation means "any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities (EEOC, See www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/accommodation.html). The ADA requires reasonable accommodation in three aspects of employment:

  • to ensure equal opportunity in the application process;
  • to enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a job; and
  • to enable an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.