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HR Insights with Ali: How to Comply with the Reasonable Accommodation Requirement under the ADA

Posted on 12/1/2016 by Ali Oromchian, Esq.
If you have 15 or more employees, then your practice is subject to the “reasonable accommodation” requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. But what, exactly, does the reasonable accommodation process entail?

There are three categories of "reasonable accommodations":

  1. Changes to a job application process,
  2. Changes to the work environment, or to the way a job is usually performed
  3. Changes that enable a disabled employee to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment

Of these three, number 2 is usually the point of concern for most small businesses. Here are some examples of accommodations which must be made in order to allow a disabled employee to continue to perform his job:

  1. Granting unpaid leave
  2. Restructuring or reassigning minor tasks which the employee cannot perform (which can be replaced with other minor tasks which the employee is able to do)
  3. Reassigning an employee who can no longer perform his job to a different, vacant position if the employee is qualified, and if the position is equal in rank and pay to the employee’s previous position

An employer does not have to lower production standards or eliminate an employee’s primary job responsibilities, nor does the employer have to excuse violations of workplace conduct rules such as violence or theft. Also, employers do not have to make accommodations for disabled employees if such accommodations would cause an “undue hardship,” which means a significant difficulty or expense. A hardship includes if an accommodation would prevent other employees from doing their jobs.

ADA compliance is a complicated issue. Seeking assistance from a professional can help to reduce confusion and limit your practice’s legal exposure.


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