Information Requests When Seeking a Reasonable Accommodation
Q: Can you give an example of the type of information an employer may ask, or an employee may have to share when there is a request for reasonable accommodation?
A: During a request for reasonable accommodation, an employer might ask for information about the nature of the employee's disability and how it impacts the person; specifically in reference to the accommodation request. Most often, this is related to some specific job tasks. It's important to keep in mind that the same disability can affect individuals in very different ways.
For example, two employees may both have low vision. However, one individual may not be able to read standard print while another can read print but may not have any peripheral vision. The type of accommodation needs for each will be different based on their disability as well as the kind of work tasks that they do.
In the process of gathering information, the employer has a right to know the relevant information, but they cannot "fish" for additional information or ask medical questions that are not related to the accommodation request. Depending on the employer and the nature of the request, this information may need to come from a doctor or professional. An employer can insist that their doctors be used to verify the information, but then the employer must assume the cost. If the employer allows the individual to use their own doctors or professionals, then the individual would cover the cost of gathering the necessary documentation.
Beyond the medical documentation verifying the disability and need for accommodation, both sides should share information about potential accommodation solutions. Usually, the person making the request has specific accommodations in mind. The Job Accommodation Network has many good resources to learn about possible accommodations. Ultimately, the employer gets to decide the accommodation, but it must be effective and meet the employee's need if an accommodation can be provided without undue hardship.