John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
612-217-4988 877-390-4527

What is a reasonable accommodation?

As this blog has discussed on previous occasions, Minnesota residents who have a legal disability under federal or state law have certain rights in the workplace. Among these rights are the right not to be harassed at work due to their disability. Likewise, an employer may not fire, refuse to hire, or take other adverse action against an employee because of her disability. Finally, an employer has an obligation to provide what the law calls a reasonable accommodation to someone who has a condition that is a disability.

This does not mean that an employer must make all jobs available to all people. After all, there are some jobs that an employer may need performed which those with certain disabilities would not be able to do safely. For instance, a trucking company looking for drivers would not be expected to employ a person who is legally blind and thus unable to obtain a driver's license. On the other hand, when all an employer needs to do is change the work environment somewhat so that a person with a disabled person can succeed, an employer will normally be expected to make that accommodation.

To turn to the same example, someone who is legally blind and otherwise qualified should be able to work as office staff within a trucking company. Under the law, the trucking company would need to provide the right office equipment and workspace.

An employer need not provide an accommodation to an employee if doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer. This would include accommodation that would be prohibitively expensive. However, employers are expected to invest a reasonable amount of time and resources in to providing accommodations.

If a worker in the Twin Cities feels that his request for an accommodation of a disability was wrongly denied, he may wish to pursue a claim for disability discrimination.

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John A. Klassen, PA
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