In Part One, we reviewed the definition of a disability according the ADA, identified some major life activities that could be limited by a disability and simplified the meaning of the phrase “regarded as disabled.” In Part Two, we will demystify "Reasonable Accommodations" and what it encompasses.
Part Two: Reasonable Accommodation
Employers also encounter the ADA when an applicant or employee asks for a reasonable accommodation. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a reasonable accommodation is “any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability.” Reasonable accommodations “can cover most things that enable an individual to apply for a job, perform a job, or have equal access to the workplace and employee benefits such as kitchens, parking lots, and office events.”
Common types of accommodations include modifying work schedules, altering the way job duties are done, eliminating a non-essential job duty (like asking the receptionist to stack the monthly 100-lb paper delivery in the storage room), granting additional breaks, providing accessible parking, and providing materials in alternative formats (e.g., Braille, large print).
Not every requested accommodation will be reasonable, however. For one, employers are not required to remove an essential job function (the receptionist can still be expected to answer the phone). Employers also aren’t required to lower production standards or provide items for personal use, like wheelchairs or hearing aids.
If an accommodation is made, it’s important to assess its effectiveness. An accommodation set up today might not work well for the employee or the company two years from now. It’s okay to reassess later whether an accommodation remains reasonable given changed circumstances.
For Part Three, we will address undue hardships and how it relates to reasonable accommodations.
During an interview, a prospective candidate discloses having a disability and the employee thinks this disability could effect their ability to do the job. Our Pros weigh-in on how to handle the situation in our Ask The Pro Series - "When a Job Candidate Mentions Having a Disability."