Employers that are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act must provide reasonable accommodations to workers who have disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are modifications to the work environment that allow the worker to perform his or her job. Workers are required to demonstrate that they have a mental or physical disability that causes a substantial impairment in a major life activity. An employee can ask for a reasonable accommodation if an obstacle at work keeps him or her from performing his or her job or prevents him or her from having equal access to an employment benefit. The employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler assist workers who have disabilities to protect their rights.
Understanding reasonable accommodations
Employers can provide a number of different reasonable accommodations to disabled workers. Employers might have to make changes to the workplace to make it more accessible to a disabled worker, make changes to the worker’s schedule, make changes to the job’s structure, allow the worker to work remotely, reassign the worker, or allow the worker to take leave from work.
For example, a pregnant worker might tell her supervisor that she temporarily needs to take more frequent bathroom breaks during the workday or to take intermittent leave for prenatal appointments. Workers who have disabilities that temporarily keep them from performing their jobs or from reporting can ask to use unpaid or paid leave or to work remotely.
How to ask for a reasonable accommodation
Disabled applicants are able to make a request for reasonable accommodations during the hiring process. Workers who are disabled can ask for reasonable accommodations during the course of their employment.
If you are a disabled worker who needs a reasonable accommodation, you must talk to your employer and explain that because of your medical condition, you need a change in the workplace to allow you to perform your job. You can provide a note from your doctor that states that your disability requires certain work-related medical restrictions.
In order to ask for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, you must tell your employer that you have a medical condition or a disability. Your request for a reasonable accommodation must be linked to your condition. Your employer may be able to ask you for medical documentation when you request an accommodation.
You can make your request orally or in writing. However, it is best to make your request in writing so that it is documented. Having documentation that includes the date of your request can be helpful if your employer unnecessarily delays its response to your request. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for asking for an accommodation regardless of whether it is denied or granted.
What is the interactive process?
After an employee has asked for a reasonable accommodation, the worker and the employer might engage in something called an interactive process. This is a process that is used to determine whether the worker has a disability that requires that an accommodation is made and to figure out potential solutions.
The employer and employee will talk about the employee’s need for accommodations, discuss different options, and try to reach an agreement about the accommodations and how they will be implemented.
When employers deny reasonable accommodation requests
Employers are allowed to deny reasonable accommodation requests if providing them would cause undue hardships to the companies. They can also deny requests if the workers fail to establish that they have disabling conditions that require accommodations. However, some employers make these claims when the accommodations would not create undue hardships. If your employer has denied your request for a reasonable accommodation, you might benefit from talking to the experienced employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.