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What is an employer’s duty to reasonable accommodation?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employee who has a disability may compel an employer to provide certain accommodations for him or her, as long as the accommodations are "reasonable," which is not always easy to define for either the employee or the employer. If an accommodation is unreasonable, an employer may legitimately refuse to provide it, but understanding what qualifies as unreasonable can prove difficult.

While the law does not clearly define what is and is not reasonable, it does express that the accommodation must not place an "undue hardship" on the employer. This, too, is a flexible term, which may mean a number of things in various circumstances. Both intentionally and frustratingly, the law creates this tension and leaves it to employees and employers to work out in their individual circumstances, sometimes with the help of a court or regulatory agency.

In general, if you request accommodation for a disability that you can document properly, and that accommodation does not involve insurmountable financial difficulty and is not unfeasible, then you have a strong chance of receiving the accommodation.

In some cases, it simply takes a detailed understanding of relevant laws and legal precedent to convince an employer to provide accommodations that you need. If you have concerns about whether or not your request is actually reasonable, you can consult with an established attorney who understands how similar claims may resolve. With proper preparation and a clear understanding of what you can expect, you can help ensure that your workplace does not discriminate against those who live with disabilities.

Source: FindLaw, "The Employer's Duty to Accommodate," accessed April 06, 2018

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