Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace (2023)

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This fact sheet serves as a basic overview of reasonable accommodations in the workplace and includes some examples and a brief review of the reasonable accommodation process. This document has information that may be useful for employees, employers, human resources staff, and others. Because this is a very general, baseline document, more specific questions may be answered by the reader’s local ADA Center.

Key Definitions

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is any change to the application or hiring process, to the job, to the way the job is done, or the work environment that allows a person with a disability who is qualified for the job to perform the essential functions of that job and enjoy equal employment opportunities. Accommodations are considered “reasonable” if they do not create an undue hardship or a direct threat.

Who is an “individual with a disability?”

An individual meets the Americans with Disabilities with Act definition act of “disability” that would qualify them for reasonable accommodations if they have “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (sometimes referred to in the regulations as an “actual disability”).” If a disability is not obvious to an employer, they can ask for medical documentation from a health care provider to confirm the need for an accommodation.

(Video) Do's & Don't for ADA Reasonable Accommodation

Individuals who solely are “regarded as” having a disability but do not have a disability, are not qualified to receive reasonable accommodations.

What are “essential functions?”

In order to be qualified for a position, an applicant or employee must be able to perform essential job functions. Essential functions are job duties that are fundamental to the position, they are the reason the job exists. Some of the factors for determining essential functions of a job include:

  • Whether the position exists specifically to perform these essential functions.
  • The number of other employees who are available to perform the same job duties.
  • The expertise or skills required to perform the essential functions.

Obligations of Employers

What types of employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers who have 15 or more employees are usually required to provide reasonable accommodations. Some state and local laws may require that employers with fewer employees provide reasonable accommodations.

Reasonable accommodations comes in many forms.

In order to determine what is reasonable, an employer must look at the request made by the applicant or employee with a disability. Whether or not an accommodation is reasonable will vary according to the position the employee holds, the way their disability affects their ability to do their job, and the environment that they work in.

What types of accommodations are generally considered reasonable?

  • Change job tasks.
  • Provide reserved parking.
  • Improve accessibility in a work area.
  • Change the presentation of tests and training materials.
  • Provide or adjust a product, equipment, or software.
  • Allow a flexible work schedule.
  • Provide an aid or a service to increase access.
  • Reassign to a vacant position.

What are some examples of reasonable accommodation?

Provide Alternative Formats: A supervisor gives feedback in writing, rather than verbally, for an employee who communicates better through written materials.

Accessible Parking: An employer changes its practice of only offering parking to upper management to allow an employee who is unable to walk long distances access to a reserved parking spot close to the building.

(Video) JAN Role-Play Training Series: Negotiating Reasonable Accommodations

Service Animals: An employer reasonably changes their office’s “no animals” policy, in order to welcome an employee’s service animal.

Equipment Change: An employer purchases software that magnifies the computer screen to allow an employee with low vision to correctly enter and read information on the computer.

Reorganization of the Job: The employer provides a checklist to ensure task completion for an employee who has an intellectual disability.

Reassignment: Reassignment is the reasonable accommodation in some situations. An employer may reassign an employee to an open position if the employee can no longer perform the essential functions of their current job. The employer does not have to create a new position, no other employees need be transferred or terminated in order to make a position vacant for the purpose of reassignment, and the individual with a disability should be qualified for the new position.

Reasonable Accommodation Process

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Title I of the ADA, each request for a reasonable accommodation must be considered on a case-by-case basis. This section reviews the phases of the reasonable accommodation process. The first step in the reasonable accommodation process is disclosure of a disability, as employers are only required to accommodate disabilities of which they are aware. It is important to note that the process must be interactive, with participation by both the person with a disability and the employer, so that an effective solution may be agreed upon.

Get the process started

After an employee discloses a disability to their manager or to human resources, it is important to initiate whatever reasonable accommodation process that the employer has in place. Disclosure usually takes the form of: because of my disability(s), I am having trouble with X job duty or benefit or privilege of employment.For an employee to disclose that they have a disability without also saying that it is impacting their work is usually not sufficient to begin the accommodation process. Disability disclosure should never be ignored.

(Video) The Employers’ Reasonable Accommodation Handbook Session Four: Neurodiversity at Work

Initiate an interactive dialogue between the employer and the employee.

The goal of this dialogue is to understand what barrier the person is experiencing and why. It is also helpful to see if the person has any ideas about what might be useful for them. At this point, the employer can also provide an overview of the process, so the person who requested an accommodation understands what will happen next and who will have access to the information shared. All participants involved must agree to maintain confidentiality when discussing accommodations; reasonable accommodation information may only be shared on a need-to-know basis, will never go in a personnel file, and will not be shared with coworkers. Co-workers who may need to do something differently as a result of an accommodation may be told of the change required, but not the reasons why the change was made.

If necessary, obtain preliminary documentation.

If the need for an accommodation is not obvious, the employee may be required to provide documentation of a disability from the appropriate health or rehabilitation professional.

The accommodation must be effective.

Both the employer and the employee are important participants in the process of finding an effective accommodation. The employee often knows what accommodation(s) will work best, because they know the barriers presented by their disability. The employer should participate, as they are familiar with the systems, policies, and practices in place within the organization. In the end, it is the employer who decides what accommodation is put into place, but it must be effective in resolving the functional limitation(s) presented by the disability.

Implement the agreed upon reasonable accommodation.

Once the employer identifies an effective accommodation, make a plan to put it into effect on the job, including any necessary training for the employee. If an employer plans to deny an accommodation request, they should have a prepared reason for denying the request to give to the employee.

The interactive accommodation process should be ongoing.

The employer and the employee should continue communication to determine if the accommodations are working and make adjustments accordingly.

Document dates, actions taken, and adjustments made to assure continued success.

All parties involved should document information about the reasonable accommodation process in order to maintain an accurate record and so that they can review the process and know what they have done to act on the accommodation.

(Video) Employment Lawyer Explains Reasonable Accommodation Law

Resources

ADA National Network

800-949-4232

www.adata.org

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

800-526-7234

www.askjan.org

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ADA Information Line

800-669-4000 (Voice)

800-669-6820 (TTY)

(Video) JAN Role-Play Training Series: Disclosing a Disability to Obtain an Accommodation

www.eeoc.gov

Content was developed by the Northwest ADA Center and is based on professional consensus of ADA experts and the ADA National Network.

Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace (1)
www.nwadacenter.org

The contents of this factsheet were developed under grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant numbers 90DP0095 and 90DP0086). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this factsheet do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

© Copyright 2018 ADA National Network. All Rights Reserved.
May be reproduced and distributed freely with attribution to ADA National Network (www.adata.org).

FAQs

Does my employer have to make reasonable adjustments? ›

Employers must make reasonable adjustments to make sure workers with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions, are not substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs.

What is an example of reasonable adjustment? ›

For example:

A disabled worker who is paid purely on their output needs frequent short additional breaks during their working day – something their employer agrees to as a reasonable adjustment.

How long does an employer have to make reasonable adjustments? ›

If an employer fails to comply with its duty to make reasonable adjustments, it discriminates against its disabled employee, and opens itself to a claim. Usually, the time limit to bring a claim is three months from the date of the act to which the complaint relates.

What is not a reasonable accommodation? ›

4. What accommodations are not considered reasonable? Reasonable accommodation does not include removing essential job functions, creating new jobs, and providing personal need items such as eye glasses and mobility aids.

What is 1 example of a reasonable accommodation? ›

Examples of reasonable accommodations include providing interpreters, readers, or other personal assistance; modifying job duties; restructuring work sites; providing flexible work schedules or work sites (i.e. telework) and providing accessible technology or other workplace adaptive equipment.

Do I need a diagnosis to request reasonable adjustments? ›

As we have mentioned above, you can certainly ask for adjustments and you may find that your employer provides them to you without asking for further evidence. You should, however, consider getting examined and diagnosed if your employer decides to push back.

How do you accommodate an employee with anxiety? ›

Reasonable accommodations for anxiety can include remote work, a support animal, a rest area, a modified break schedule, a flexible schedule, and shifts in schedule. The type of anxiety you have, your limitations, and your employer's resources will determine what accommodation is appropriate.

What reasonable adjustments can I ask for anxiety? ›

Reasonable adjustments for mental health
  • Take a flexible approach to working hours. ...
  • Provide the option to work from home. ...
  • Manage work volume. ...
  • Consider their physical working environment. ...
  • Provide increased supervision. ...
  • Increase support from other members of staff. ...
  • Offer training. ...
  • Develop a compassionate culture.

Does an employee have to ask for reasonable adjustments? ›

Asking for reasonable adjustments. Once your employer knows you're disabled, they have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for you if you need them. If they don't, you should write to them.

When can an employer refuse reasonable adjustments? ›

A failure to make reasonable adjustments is a form of disability discrimination. However, an employer can refuse to make specific adjustments if it would not be reasonable for them to do so.

Who decides if an adjustment is reasonable? ›

If there is a disagreement about whether an adjustment is reasonable or not, in the end, only an Employment Tribunal can decide this.

Can I sue my employer for causing anxiety? ›

You can file a lawsuit against your employer for stress and anxiety if the stress and anxiety you experienced eclipses the reasonable levels expected for your position. This may sound subjective, and employees affected by excessive stress and anxiety may not know how to prove their circumstances.

Can a reasonable adjustment be refused? ›

An organisation or employer may legally refuse an adjustment if it was too expensive or would disrupt other people or the business. This is not discrimination.

What is failure to make reasonable adjustments? ›

If someone doesn't cooperate with their duty to make reasonable adjustments, the Equality Act says it's unlawful discrimination. You can ask the person or organisation to make the necessary changes. If they refuse, you can make a discrimination claim under the Equality Act.

What are the four types of accommodations? ›

Accommodations are typically grouped into four categories: presentation, response, setting, and timing and scheduling.

What are some examples of accommodations? ›

Examples of accommodations include:
  • sign language interpreters for students who are deaf;
  • computer text-to-speech computer-based systems for students with visual impairments or Dyslexia;
  • extended time for students with fine motor limitations, visual impairments, or learning disabilities;
24 May 2022

What are some reasons for reasonable accommodation? ›

The ADA requires reasonable accommodations as they relate to three aspects of employment: 1) ensuring equal opportunity in the application process; 2) enabling a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a job; and 3) making it possible for an employee with a disability to enjoy equal ...

Is anxiety a disability under ADA? ›

Under the ADA, the term "disability" means a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual. Moreover, the ADA's definition of a mental impairment includes any emotional or mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders.

How do you accommodate employees with specific needs? ›

providing extra training, mentoring, supervision and support. buying or adapting equipment. For example, voice activated software for someone who is blind or has low vision, a phone that can be amplified for a person who is hard of hearing, or a digital recorder for someone who has difficulty taking written notes.

What accommodations can I get for ADHD at work? ›

Key Accommodations:
  • Provide structured breaks as a physical outlet.
  • Utilize a job coach to teach/reinforce techniques.
  • Allow the employee to work from home.
  • Review conduct policy with employee.
  • Adjust method of supervision.
  • Use services of EAP.
  • Provide private workspace.

How do you prove that you have a disability? ›

To be considered a disability, your condition must have a substantial adverse effect on your daily life. This means it must have more than a minor effect. The condition doesn't have to stop you from doing something completely, but it must make it more difficult.

What is classed as indirect discrimination? ›

Indirect discrimination is when there's a practice, policy or rule which applies to everyone in the same way, but it has a worse effect on some people than others. The Equality Act says it puts you at a particular disadvantage.

Is flexible working a reasonable adjustment? ›

Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance on flexible working makes it clear that it may be a reasonable adjustment for employers to allow disabled workers to work flexibly if this removes a barrier they face to being able to do their job.

Is anxiety and stress a disability? ›

Is Anxiety a Disability? Anxiety disorders are considered a disability. Anxiety disorders such as OCD, panic disorders, phobias or PTSD can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Those with anxiety can qualify for disability if they are able to prove their anxiety makes it impossible to work.

Can I get accommodations for anxiety and depression? ›

It is likely that most employers have at least one employee with a mental health condition. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other nondiscrimination laws, most employers must provide "reasonable accommodations" to qualified employees with disabilities.

What mental illnesses are covered under ADA? ›

1. Who is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)?
  • Depression.
  • Bipolar disorder /manic depression.
  • Schizophrenia.
  • Panic, anxiety and stress disorders.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • Traumatic brain injury.

Is stress a reasonable accommodation? ›

Stress on its own may not be enough to rise to the level of an ADA disability. However, stress associated with a disability or medical condition could fall within ADA coverage. Gathering additional information may help to determine if it is an ADA situation.

Does my employer have to give me time off for mental health? ›

An employee is allowed to take sick days for their mental health, at any given time. If their leave is more than seven days, they must provide a Statement of Fitness. (This is also known as a sick note, fit note, or doctor's note).

How do you accommodate mental illness in the workplace? ›

Job Accommodations Process
  1. Disclosing a mental health disability. ...
  2. Securing preliminary documentation. ...
  3. Establishing an open dialogue. ...
  4. Implementing reasonable accommodations. ...
  5. Documenting accommodations. ...
  6. Maintaining ongoing communication. ...
  7. Management/Supervision. ...
  8. Flexible Scheduling/ Telework.

What is a reasonable adjustment flag? ›

To do this we are developing a way of putting something on a person's health record which shows that reasonable adjustments might need making. We call this a 'reasonable adjustment flag' and any organisations that are providing care would be able to see the flag.

What adjustments can be made at work for someone? ›

5 reasonable adjustments you can make for employees suffering from mental ill-health
  • Reduced working hours.
  • Workload adjustments.
  • Changes to their working environment.
  • Extra support from other staff.
  • Encourage conversations and build a plan.
30 May 2019

Can an employee refuse to accept a change in their terms and conditions? ›

However, in short, an employee can refuse to accept a change or variation in their contract's terms and conditions. The employee could also ask for a trial period, so they can work under their new terms and decide whether or not they are prepared to accept them.

How do you ask for reasonable adjustments at work? ›

explain to your employer why you need the adjustments you're asking for. You should tell them why it's difficult for you to do your job compared to someone without your disability. say what's causing you a problem at work and how that could be addressed – list any solutions you can think of.

What reasonable adjustments can I ask for mental health? ›

Examples of reasonable adjustments you could ask for include:
  • changing the times when events happen.
  • changing the places where services are to be delivered.
  • arranging for an advocate to support you.
  • allowing more time for a face-to-face interview.
  • offering clear written information.

What are the 4 types of adjustment? ›

There are four specific types of adjustments:
  • Accrued expenses.
  • Accrued revenues.
  • Deferred expenses.
  • Deferred revenues.
3 Dec 2020

What are the three main forms of adjustment? ›

There are three main types of adjusting entries: accruals, deferrals, and non-cash expenses. Accruals include accrued revenues and expenses. Deferrals can be prepaid expenses or deferred revenue. Non-cash expenses adjust tangible or intangible fixed assets through depreciation, depletion, etc.

What if I can't physically do my job anymore? ›

If your doctor agrees you can't sustain a full-time job, you should be eligible for Social Security disability. If you don't have a medical condition that qualifies you for immediate approval of disability benefits (called a "listing"), you'll need to prove that you can't work.

How do you prove emotional distress at work? ›

How To Prove Emotional Distress Damages. The two main ways to prove emotional distress damages are (1) for the employee (and their friends and family) to testify about how the discrimination caused psychological injury, and/or (2) have a doctor or mental health professional testify about the harm suffered.

What is unfair treatment at work? ›

Unfair treatment can take many forms. It can include illegal harassment and discrimination based on a “protected characteristic” such as age, disability, pregnancy, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, color, nationality, or sex.

Can you sue your employer for Gaslighting? ›

Is gaslighting illegal at work? Gaslighting is illegal if the victim can prove it's discrimination or harassment.

What qualifies as constructive dismissal? ›

Constructive dismissal is when you're forced to leave your job against your will because of your employer's conduct. The reasons you leave your job must be serious, for example, they: do not pay you or suddenly demote you for no reason.

Do employers have to follow occupational health recommendations? ›

Every employer must provide a safe workplace and must assess risk at work. There is a whole range of health, safety and welfare legislation that requires such action. Many employers consider that they meet their legal requirements by having a safety policy and a health and safety officer.

What are the 4 accommodations categories? ›

Accommodations are typically grouped into four categories: presentation, response, setting, and timing and scheduling.

What are common accommodations? ›

Examples of accommodations include:
  • sign language interpreters for students who are deaf;
  • computer text-to-speech computer-based systems for students with visual impairments or Dyslexia;
  • extended time for students with fine motor limitations, visual impairments, or learning disabilities;
24 May 2022

What are examples of special accommodations? ›

Needed accommodations may include providing: Accessible training sites; Training materials in alternate formats (e.g., large print, Braille, audiotape, or electronic format) to accommodate a disability; and. Sign language interpreters or captioning.

What are 3 accommodations? ›

There are three main types of accommodations: academic, behavioral, and environmental. Each type can help a student succeed in the classroom setting, but it's important to know which type will be most beneficial for each individual student.

What are the 5 basic accommodation categories? ›

5 types of accommodation you've probably never considered
  • Hostels. If you are traveling in a group, you should consider hostel accommodation. ...
  • Self-Contained Apartments. ...
  • Holiday homes. ...
  • Bed and Breakfasts. ...
  • Homestays. ...
  • Conclusion.

What are accommodations for anxiety? ›

Reasonable accommodations for anxiety can include remote work, a support animal, a rest area, a modified break schedule, a flexible schedule, and shifts in schedule. The type of anxiety you have, your limitations, and your employer's resources will determine what accommodation is appropriate.

What are some examples of accommodations and modifications? ›

Examples of Accommodations & Modifications
  • General Accommodations: Large print textbooks. Textbooks for at-home use. ...
  • Testing and Assessment Accommodations: Answers to be dictated. ...
  • General Modifications: Allow outlining, instead of writing for an essay or major project. ...
  • Behavior modifications: Breaks between tasks.
18 Apr 2022

What accommodations should I ask for? ›

What accommodations can I request?
  • making existing facilities accessible.
  • job restructuring.
  • part-time or modified work schedules.
  • acquiring or modifying equipment.
  • changing tests, training materials, or policies.
  • providing qualified readers or interpreters.
  • reassignment to a vacant position.
  • medical leave.

What are two types of workplace accommodations? ›

Types of Workplace Accommodations

Workplace accommodations (WPA) such as flexible work schedules, assistive devices, or ergonomic workstations can play an important role for employees with disabilities by helping mitigate some of the barriers they may face in the workplace ( e.g. , Lindsay et al.

Which of the following could be considered reasonable accommodations? ›

Examples of reasonable accommodations include: making the workplace accessible to and usable by an employee with a disability, restructuring a job, modifying work schedules, providing qualified readers for individuals who are blind, providing sign language interpreters to people who are deaf, providing periods of leave ...

How are accommodations determined? ›

Reasonable accommodations are determined by examining: The barriers resulting from the interaction between the impact of the documented disability and the campus environment. The possible accommodations that might reduce and/or remove the barriers.

What are some examples of modifications? ›

Modifications are changes in what students are expected to learn, based on their individual abilities. Examples of modifications include use of alternate books, pass/no pass grading option, reworded questions in simpler language, daily feedback to a student.

What is a non-standard accommodation? ›

Non-standard accommodations are accommodations offered for students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan. Any accommodation different than a standard OSTP accommodation for use on an OSTP test requires prior approval.

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