What is an employer’s duty to accommodate disabled employees?

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2017 | Blog |

There are hundreds of ways that we as people can suffer a disability, but that does not mean that we have to cease working. Since 1990, Americans have enjoyed the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which compels employers to make reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability so that they can remain in the workforce.

However, the law provides some relief for employers as well, noting that “reasonable accommodations” must not place an “undue burden” on an employer. This can become a bit of a legal grey area, because both of these terms have an intentional amount of room for interpretation.

If you believe that your employer fails to meet its duty to accommodate, you can use the strength of the law to compel them to make a reasonable accommodation, but this is rarely a simple or quick process.

Before you decide how to proceed, it is usually wise to consult with an experienced employment law attorney who understands how to examine the details of your experience and the actions or inaction of your employer to determine the best path forward to justice.

Are you seeking a reasonable accommodation?

As a person with a disability, you have every right to object to discrimination on the part of your employer. In many cases, an employer may not wish to keep a disabled employee, and attempts to drive the employee away with subtle or vague instances of discrimination or unfair treatment.

If you believe that your employer is discriminating against you, you should absolutely pursue a workplace discrimination suit. However, in some cases, your employer may believe that their accommodations for you already meet their burden, even if you are not satisfied.

In these cases, it is very difficult to know whether your employer is refusing to treat you fairly, or if there is a less spurious explanation for your plight. In some cases, your employer simply may not have the resources to devote to your preferred accommodation. This is especially true in small businesses.

Employer objections

In general, employees who object to accommodating an employee’s disability do so on two grounds. Usually, an employer either objects to the nature of the employee’s claim of disability, or claims that the accommodation the employee seeks places an undue burden on the business.

For instance, an employee may claim that an employee with poor eyesight should acquire eyeglasses rather than seek accommodation from the company.

Similarly, an employer may claim that building an elevator solely to accommodate an employee who struggles to climb stairs, but can still walk, places an undue burden on the business.

Whether either of these scenarios leans in favor of the employer or employee depends on the specifics of the individual case.

Determining the value of the employee’s claims often takes time and resources, so it is always wise to consult with an experienced attorney to create a clear strategy before moving forward with any discrimination or accommodation suit.

Don’t settle for less than you deserve

You deserve fair, reasonable accommodation for your disability, and should not settle for anything less. It is also important to remember that when you stand up for your own rights, you stand up for the rights of those who do not have the strength or resources to stand up for themselves.