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What are reasonable workplace accommodations?

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Employment Law

As an employer, you are legally obligated to create an inclusive workplace that does not discriminate against individuals living with disabilities. This is what reasonable accommodations are all about.

In a nutshell, a reasonable accommodation constitutes modifications or adjustments to job duties, work schedules and the work environment to enable employees with disabilities to perform their essential duties. Common examples of such changes include:

  • Modifying work schedules
  • Providing assistive technology such as screen magnifiers and text-to-speech systems
  • Adjusting or re-assigning job duties
  • Making physical changes to the workspace, like installing ramps

The key is to ensure people living with disabilities have equal employment opportunities and a level playing field at the workplace.

The element of undue hardship

Not every accommodation is considered reasonable. The law does not mandate you to make such changes if you have to endure undue hardship, such as significant difficulty or expense. Factors like the cost involved, available resources and overall impact on the business may come into play when assessing undue hardship.

Protect your business from legal liability

If an employee requests reasonable accommodation, it is up to you to initiate an interactive session with them to determine the most effective adjustment to the workplace.  This involves discussing the specific limitations caused by their disability and exploring possible solutions together. 

Remember, failing to provide reasonable accommodation, ignoring requests or retaliating against an employee for asserting their rights can lead to legal trouble. You may face discrimination claims that could result in costly legal battles and reputational damage.

Seeking legal guidance when handling reasonable accommodation issues is essential to understanding your obligations under the law and protecting your business interests. It can also help you handle accommodation requests that may pose an undue hardship without getting into legal crosshairs.

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